Cosmos Invictus is a collectible card game about battling with giant robots (I won’t say ‘Mechs because this isn’t a Mechwarrior game) in the near future, from Pegnio Games. It’s in early access right now on Steam, but if they can iron out a few kinks and tone down the pay-to-win model, they could have a fun CCG game on their hands that’s more than just Star Realms plus Hearthstone.
In the future, humanity is split into two main factions: the Gaia Unity (Earth-based Government) and the High Frontier Alliance, who I mentally just started thinking of as “Belters.” These two factions come into conflict over rare “Pathfinder” technology left over from other civilizations and elements that can only be found out in space. Unable to peaceably agree on the use for these resources is the center of the conflict between the two groups. The game has you pick a side when you start, and as far as I’ve played I don’t see a way of changing that decision or playing the other side’s missions, so keep that in mind when deciding.
Gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who’s played a CCG before, especially online ones, with a few small changes. For one, you can add a pilot on to any robot in order to boost it’s stats; also your card’s stats may be altered just by the place you decide to put them on the battlefield. Some provide shields (must be attacked first), stealth, or repair abilities, while others might alter your defense and attack power. You can change what formation (and thereby what bonuses you get) when you’re in in the hangar. Also, when you attack another card, they will simultaneously counterattack, so you have to plan accordingly.
My first small gripe is that every single robot attack looks like they shoot missiles. Not every robot in the art even looks like they have missiles, so hopefully in the full release they add some varied looking attacks (if you add a module to your main ship that lets it attack, it looks like a plasma gun). Another difference in Cosmos is your robots have to refuel, and if there isn’t a spare docking bay to refuel in that card, it is discarded. I realized early on that having a full roster out on the board could be dangerous, since you can’t opt out of a counter-attack. So if the docking bay is in use, and the enemy attacks multiple robots low on fuel, you could lose most of your reinforcements in one turn, even if they weren’t close to losing all their defense.
In my short-lived duel career, I came up against someone who had either played a lot of Cosmos in a short amount of time, or they had gone to the Astro store and bought everything they needed. Notice in the shot above their ship has 3 docking bays (two are empty) and their main ship is not one of the starter ships with only 8 power; additionally it’s been outfitted with all four module spots filled. Unfortunately this soured me of the duel arena, since it felt very pay-to-win. The Astro store sells both kinds of in-game currency (yes there are two) as well as booster packs of cards. What’s frustrating is the modules and upgraded ships you can buy with the in-game currency don’t tell you what they do before you buy them. Hopefully Pegnio will add a mouse-over or descriptor feature so players know what they’re getting first.
It might seem like another small complaint to point out the possibility of paying instead of earning these upgrades, but it would be nice to see more developers pushing back on the in-game purchases and additional DLC models, instead of leaning hard into them.
Getting new card packs, and setting them up in the hangar is fairly straightforward and easy to do (also easy to spend a lot of time strategizing and making new decks), I just wish there was a way to make cards you didn’t already have, much like Hearthstone. You can use in-game currency forge more of a card you already have, but from what I can tell you can’t forge a card you haven’t gotten yet.
Overall, Cosmos Invictus is a fun CCG game with some cool ideas that make sense in the game world, such as refueling, formations, and pilots. I just hope that they make some of the menus and parts more user friendly, and tone down (or wishful thinking, get rid of) the pay-to-win option, then they could have something really special on their hands.