- For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
- For 1 to 6 players
- Variable game length (dependent on game played)
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy to Moderate
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
Spelling and math collide in this deck of 100 unique cards. This is not a game, but a game system that invites players to sit down and enjoy a variety of games that will challenge the mind. Big letters and small numbers make the cards easy to read and to identify for the Child Geeks, but the games included are fun for the whole family. With an open invite to create new games, budding game designers can use the cards to create endless fun.
What’s Your Cosmo, by EQ Enterprises, is comprised of 100 cards. The cards have two sides. One side is referred to as the “Letter” side and all the cards on this side have one of the letters in the word “cosmo” printed on it. The other side is referred to as the “Cosmo” side. This side has cards with number point values that range from plus and minus 1 through 6.
The Cosmo side also has a “wild card” with an infinity symbol and special “Cosmo” cards that represent the moon, a star, a comment, a black hole, and a planet. The Cosmo cards have a plus or minus symbol on them, with the planet Cosmo card having none, but inherently representing both the plus and minus value simultaneously. On the opposite side of the Cosmo cards are the Letter cards. These look just like all the other letters on the Letter side but have a dark blue border. Keep all this in mind when the summary of each game is given below. You have a Letter side and a Cosmo side to the deck of 100 cards. On the Letter side are 5 Letter cards and on the back side of those Letter cards are the 5 Cosmo cards. Confused? Don’t be. It’s very simple once you have the cards in your hand.
Regardless of which side is asked for, it is very easy to quickly organize the deck. The Cosmo side is black and the Letter side is white. All it takes is a minute to quickly flip a deck of jumbled cards the right way, shuffle it, and get to playing a game. Speaking of which…
Eight Games in One
The deck of cards are customized and very different than your standard deck of playing cards. This has allowed the game creators to design games unique to What’s Your Cosmo, making it a game system rather than a game. Right out of the box, eight games are provided for the players to try. The provided games range in complexity from easy to hard and the required number of players ranges from 1 to 6. These games are summarized here.
Note: the game box states there are only 7 games included, but there are 8 games provided in the instructions.
(Above average difficulty for 2 to 6 players)
This game uses the Cosmo side of the deck and challenges the players to make a “triple play” to win the game. The Cosmo cards are placed in a line in front of all the players and the rest of the cards are shuffled and placed Cosmo side down. The players then take 5 cards each from the deck to create their initial hand. On a player’s turn, they will draw a card from the deck and attempt to play cards from their hand. To play a card, the player must first put a number card with the value of “6” underneath one of the Cosmo cards or an infinity card. Additionally, the plus or minus value of the “6” must match the Cosmo card it is played to. After that, the players can play any cards they like to that column as long as they are a number value less than the card above it and has the opposite sign value. For example, -6, +5, -5, +4, etc. If a player is ever able to play a triple (the same number 3 times in a row, regardless of plus or minus value), they have scored and they collect all the cards in that row, leaving the Cosmo card. For example, a +6, -5, +4, -4, +4 would be a triple. Each pile counts as one point and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
(Above average level of difficulty for 1 player)
This is the solitaire version of Cosmo. Instead of a hand of cards the player uses, they draw 3 cards, stacking them. The player attempts to play as many of those cards as they can, but cannot play the cards underneath until they play the cards that are stacked above it. Once the player can no longer play any of the drawn cards, they draw another three and place them on top of any of the cards previously drawn. When the player scores a triple, they take the row and set it aside. The player wins if they are able to play all the cards in the deck.
(Highest level of difficulty for 2 to 6 players)
This game challenges the players to attempt to reduce the sum value of the Cosmo side cards to as close to zero as possible. First each player is dealt a Cosmo card and then 3 cards are dealt to each player, Cosmo side down. The players do not look at these cards and they are placed next to their Cosmo card. Then the players are dealt another 3 cards, which they do look at, and attempt to organize them so the total sum is as close to zero as possible. The Cosmo card the player is dealt determines if the end value can be a positive or negative value, but the players are always shooting for zero. The players then take turns revealing one of their cards in their stack they did not look at. If the value would help them get to zero or closer to zero, they can keep it and say “Save”. Saved cards remain on the table and stay face-up. Or the player can pass on the card and place it under their Cosmo card, hiding it from view. This continues until all the players have gone through their 3 cards in their stack. Then the final turn is the final draw. If the player has not saved any cards, they must draw one card from the deck. Otherwise, it is optional. Then all the players reveal their cards and explain their math. Points are given to each player based on how close they were to their target value and on what side of the positive or negative “fence” their final value was situated.
(Highest level of difficulty for 2 to 6 players)
EQ, short for “Equate”, is a math game where all the players are trying to get ride of their cards as fast as possible by playing three-part equations or canceling number cards in play. Fifteen cards are dealt to each player, Cosmo side down. These are the players’ permanent stacks and are used by them during the game. The top card of each stack is revealed. Then another four cards are dealt to each player, with the Cosmo side up. On a player’s turn, they attempt to use the revealed card on their stack and the four cards to its right to cancel a number (for example, +5 and -5) or a three-part equation (for example, +6, -2, +4…or… 6-2=4). The final card that is played to the four cards remains on top and is now the new value. If a player ever has less than for cards side-by-side, they replenish it from their stack. The first player to use all the cards on their stack wins.
(Easy level of difficulty for 2 to 5 players)
In this game, the players will attempt to organize their hand so they have a complete number sequence of 1 through 6 that are all of the same positive or negative value. The Cosmo cards are placed in a line to the table and then 6 cards are dealt to each player, Cosmo side down. The remaining deck is then placed to the table with the top card flipped over to start the discard pile. The players then look at their hand and decide if they want their sequence to be positive or negative and take the corresponding Cosmo card that shares that value. The Cosmo card is placed in front of the player. Once all the Cosmo cards are selected, players take turns. On a player’s turn, they can either draw a card from the deck or take the top most card on the discard pile. The player will then discard a card to the discard pile leaving their hand with only 6 cards. Once a player has a sequence of 6, they lay it down in front of them and collect one of the cards from the sequence. This counts as one point regardless of the card’s number value. All the cards are then collected and reshuffled with the Cosmo cards again going to the center of the table in a straight line. The game continues until a player has collected 4 points.
(Average level of difficulty for 2 to 4 players)
Up until now, all the games have dealt with numbers and math. This game uses the Letter side and challenges the players to collect enough letters to spell the word “cosmo”. The Letter cards are placed in the middle of the playing area to spell “cosmo” and then 5 cards are dealt to each player. The rest of the deck is placed with the Cosmo side up, the top card is flipped over, and placed next to it to create the discard pile. On the player’s turn, they will either draw a card from the deck or take the top most card on the discard pile, discarding one card to the discard deck at the end of their turn. The players are attempting to create a winning hand that consists of five cards that are all of the same letter or four cards that are all the same letter plus the “O”. When they do, they play their hand out in front of them and collect one of the cards in their winning hand. The card they can collect is dependent on their winning hand. If their winning hand is all five of the same letter, they take on of the cards from their hand and set it aside. If their winning hand is four of a kind, they take one of the cards that made the four of a kind and set it aside. The first player to spell “cosmo” with their cards they won wins the game.
(Average level of difficulty for 2 to 4 players)
The object of this game is to spell “cosmo” as many times as possible. The Letter cards are placed in the middle of the playing area in a diagonal line spelling “cosmo”. Then all the players are dealt 5 cards and keep their Letter side hidden from their opponents. On their turn, players attempt to play as many of their cards as they can to the playing area to spell “cosmo”. Cards with the same letters can be played in rows created by the Letter cards and only when a player spells “cosmo” in a column do they collect the four cards used and keep them in a stack, leaving the Letter card. If a player can ever not play a card, they draw a card and then attempt to play. If they still can’t play, they simply pass. When the game is over, the player with the most stacks wins.
(Easy level of difficulty for 2 players)
In this 2-player game, opponents go head-to-head to be the first to use all their cards to spell “cosmo” in rows as many times as possible. The Letter cards are placed in a row to the center of the table spelling “cosmo”, separating the two players. Then all the cards are dealt out. One player will have 47 cards and the other player will have 48 (95 doesn’t divide in two evenly). These decks remain Letter side down in front of their owning player. At the same time, players reveal the top card of their deck and place it next to it. If it is the same letter, this card cannot be played and another card is drawn. If the cards are different letters, the players place them in a column on their side of the playing area directly underneath the Letter card that matches it. When only one empty space is left in a row on either side of the playing area, a player can place a card on their or their opponent’s row to spell “cosmo”. These cards are collected by the player and they are awarded an extra flip of their deck, being allowed to play it to either side of the playing area. Game play continues until one player uses all the cards in their deck and wins the game.
Crafting Your Own Game
Of course, the benefit of being given a complete game system that is flexible enough to be open to interpretation, but well-defined enough to create structure, is the ability to create your own games. Using the cards, players can create new and unique card games for their friends and family to enjoy. This, technically, makes What’s Your Cosmo an unlimited experience, trumped only by a player’s imagination (or lack thereof). For a budding game designer, the cards provide a playground of possibilities. Educators can also use the cards, especially math and English teachers, to help strengthen classroom lessons and make learning a game, literally.
To learn more about What’s Your Cosmo, visit the game’s web site.
I have no doubt that What’s Your Cosmo will be well received by the Child and Parent Geeks, but I doubt very much it will get much attention from the Gamer Geeks. There is very little in the game that would attract a Gamer Geek to it. No more than a standard deck of cards, really. And the games that come with it are not what I would consider up to “Gamer Geek” snuff. For the Child and Parent Geeks and their families, this game is going to rock.
The games are very well detailed and it was very handy of the game designer to suggest a level of difficult for each. This made it easy for me to quickly determine which games I wanted to introduce to each group. I focused on the most difficult with the Gamer Geeks, the average with the Parent Geeks, and the easiest with the Child Geeks. Then the plan was to mix it up a bit and see if the games still did well with groups of different age and skill levels.
So, in other words, what I typical do anyway. But this time, I was knowingly putting games of different difficulty in front of 2 or more groups. Should be interesting.
As far as what games I would teach my little geeks, I let them decide. I handed them the game rules and said, “pick two”, which they did. After I explained the two games to them, I asked if they had any questions. Hearing none, we shuffled the deck to play Over/Under and All Five. As we did so, I asked my two little geeks their thoughts on the game system so far.
“Neat idea. I always like games that can be played different ways.” ~ Liam (age 8)
“This is a good game to practice my letters, Daddy!” ~ Nyhus (age 5)
Both of my little geeks are ready to go and excited to play. Let’s see if this game is out of this world or barely makes it off the ground.
The Child Geeks rather enjoyed the games with the letters, but we had mixed results with the games that used math. Some of the Child Geeks were naturally stronger at mathematics than others and that quickly made the number games less entertaining. Math wise, however, any Child Geek in second grade or higher shouldn’t have a problem. The math is very simple, but do expect some downtime between turns when some of the Child Geeks start counting on their fingers. The spelling games, however, were well received by everyone. It helps to have the word “cosmo” out in front and it served as a good reminder and guide for our youngest of Child Geek players. In the end, the Child Geeks thought that What’s Your Cosmo was a hit and gladly approved it.
The Parent Geeks didn’t think the games were that challenging for adults, but simply loved how much focus was on math and spelling. At a peer level, the games failed to enthuse, but at a family level, the games were a huge hit. The Parent Geeks very much liked how easy the games were to play and how focused they were on very specific math and spelling skills. According to one Parent Geek, “this is exactly the type of game you want to play with your family because it is fun and teaches at the same time.” That sentiment was shared by all the Parent Geeks who played What’s Your Cosmo and they gladly approved it.
The Gamer Geeks were not so open-minded about it. They played all 8 (including Solitaire) and found the games to be stale. They didn’t think the games had much in the way of strategy or tactics, although, they did recognize that players had to think logically at all times. They also found the game play experience to be exceedingly shallow and too simplistic to be of much fun. They all agreed that the game was best for parents and kids and that the Gamer Geeks need not play it unless they were using it as tool to teach others the most basic of Geek Skills. In the end, even the benefits the game system provided as a teaching aid didn’t win the Gamer Geeks over and they rejected it.
To be fair, I should review What’s Your Cosmo as a game system and then as a series of games. Takes longer, but it’s really the only way to fully explore and discuss it.
I personally don’t think What’s Your Cosmo is bad, but I think other designers have done a better job of making a game system out of cards. For example, my favorite is Decktet which has over a hundred games using its game system and What’s Your Cosmo is currently limited to only 8. More games can certainly be created, but the game system design in What’s Your Cosmo does somewhat trump an individual’s ability to expand on the game’s components. For example, you can use either the Letter side or the Cosmo side. Instead of having a deck of many possibilities, you are stuck with a deck of 100 cards that is either all letters or a mix of numbers and symbols. So as a game system goes, I think What’s Your Cosmo is lacking the ability to create robust games beyond what we are already given.
Let’s change gears and focus on the games it does come with for a moment. What’s Your Cosmo does a great job of using simple math and spelling, making its games accessible to younger players. The learning curve will be based on the player’s level of understanding and grasp of numbers and letters, but that’s about it as far as the learning curve goes. None of the games included in the box are overly difficult other than some games will require everyone to think a bit more. In this light, I think What’s Your Cosmo is an excellent choice for Child and Parent Geeks. The included games would be very good for teachers to use in their classrooms as special activities with their students. As I have said many times before, if you can make learning a game, you’ll find students are eager to play.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.