Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League

As of this writing, Perry Rhodan is one of two science fiction themed games in the Kosmos 2-Player series. In particular, the franchise covered here is a German SF Western-styled, long-running fictional series, the adventures of Perry Rhodan. They’re originally in German, though English translations of the series are are trickling their way into the states.

I’ve never read this series and know nothing about it, although I imagine knowing the series makes knowing the planets here easier to grasp; but knowledge of the novels and stories isn’t necessary to enjoy this game.

As for the game itself, it’s mainly of the pick-up-and-deliver genre. Each player is a space trader transporting goods from planet to planet, receiving money on each delivery. With a limited number of actions per turn, the focus of the game is on optimizing your pick ups and subsequent deliveries as you pilot your little spaceship to and fro.

Your optimization problem solving is helped out by special action cards drawn from your own deck. Some of these give you a temporary boost, and some are improvements of your little spaceship that yield permanent powers. You can only afford so many of the latter, of course, and only play so many of the former per turn.

The main decisions in specializing your trader ship, quite an important part of the game, will alter your strategy as opportunities to buy parts come up as you go through your deck, getting more expensive the more you outfit your rig. Are you going to go for mobility or extra capacity to transport more stuff? These are quite finely balanced—so long as you remember the rules of the game.

And the rules are among the more complex of the series. I rather wish they had at least included tokens to count down the specific actions taken a turn—there are three types with a total of at least five overall actions per turn, which can be ordered in almost any way one desires, and counting too many or too little can severely offset the game balance. Summary sheets would have been nice as well… ah well.

This game is right up your alley if you like a sci-fi theme, delivery games, special powers, and like a more complicated ruleset that leans away from a bare abstract. These characteristics are tightly coupled enough—even the theme and mechanics go hand in hand—such that if you don’t like any of them, this game’s probably not for you.

I like this game well enough; it scratches my pick-up-and-deliver itch in a small box, and plays tightly (as such a game needs to be), yet casually, for two. And unlike many such games, it doesn’t occupy a huge swath of table. If anything, I wish there were more aids in the form of better card icons, more of a playing board, and action counters.

I’ve never played its similar-yet-not counterpart, Starship Catan, though I’ve observed many games of it. Starship Catan differs from Perry Rhodan in that it’s much more about building/development game than delivery, not surprising given its roots in the Settlers of Catan series. The rule complexity is about the same for both—though if you’re a fan of the Catan series, The mechanics of Starship Catan will make you feel right at home. Perry Rhodan is more adventuresome.