Alright, enough background. Let's get to the game.
Spectrum Cosmos is a diceless miniatures game that uses cards and secrecy as its random element. If I had to compare it to modern games, I'd say it has elements of Warmachine, Infinity, Malifaux, and the board game Fury of Dracula.
Read the details below.
The skeleton of the game is pretty similar to Warmachine. Each of a player's units can activate once a turn. Once every unit on the side has activated once, the turn ends.
A player also has a hand of cards drawn from a Command Deck. There is some disagreement in the original text over the composition of the Command Deck and how it is handled. This is an incredibly important aspect of the game, and I should really make a firm decision on the best way to deal with it. The deck is composed of cards valued at 1, 2, or 3 in five suits (wouldn't it be nice if there were only four, so you could easily use a regular deck of cards?), plus a few wild cards. Hand size in the original text was determined seemingly arbitrarily in setup. I propose using hand size as a method of balancing the various commander units (though this raises the question as to what happens if the commander is lost in action – again, material for a future post). In any case, you get a hand of five to nine cards that lasts for both players' turns before you discard and refill.
During an activation, a unit may move up to its Speed in inches (with some restrictions. I'll get to movement in a later post). After moving, a unit can either immediately resolve an action or play a Command Card to resolve an action at the end of the turn with a bonus.
Actions are printed on a unit's profile. Units will have five actions: one for each suit in the Command Deck. Most actions are contested, and must target an enemy unit. There are no restrictions on targeting. An action can target any enemy unit on the board. Restrictions (like line of sight and range) are checked only when actions are resolved. Actions that do not target enemy units are called Simple Actions.
I've made this template for writing actions (In the original, every action was written out longhand. I'll type some examples up sometime if we need a laugh):
Action Name – [Special Keywords]: Range X, Skill X, [Additional Information]
Special keywords change how the action functions. 'Simple' is a special keyword that means the action does not have a target. 'Attack' is a special keyword that has several effects. Special keywords may also include abilities that change or restrict how an action resolves.
While it isn't your turn, your units aren't entirely useless. When a unit is targeted with an action, it has the opportunity to declare a reaction. Like actions, reactions are printed on a unit's profile, with one per suit in the Command Deck. Unlike actions, units may only perform reactions if their controlling player plays a Command Card on their behalf. Every unit will have at least one reaction with the 'Default' keyword, allowing that reaction to be used as often as necessary.
When resolving actions, check the action entry from left to right. First, check line of sight (unless special keywords say otherwise). Then, check if special keywords make the action invalid. Next, check if the target is in range. Finally, compare the Skill rating of the action to the Skill rating of the target unit's reaction. If the acting unit's Skill is equal or greater, the action is successful and the reaction fails. If the reacting unit's Skill is greater, the reverse is true. Only the action or the reaction will be successful, but some actions or reactions will have effects on failure.
Gosh, that ran long. I'll run through an example of this, as well as a few examples of what actions can do in my next entry.