100 Game Reference Sheets … and Counting …


Cosmic Encounter

Way back in 1981, on my sixteenth birthday, a schoolfriend gave me a copy of a game called Cosmic Encounter. While I’d been playing role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons for a few years, I’d only recently been enjoying boardgames. Cosmic Encounter is a bit of a classic in the small world of boardgames; it’s been through editions by Eon (the 1977 original, and the one my friend gave me), Mayfair Games, West End Games, Games Workshop, and the toy giant Hasbro among others—sixteen different editions apparently.

So it’s a nice coincidence that the one hundredth entry on my Games Sheets page should happen to be for the new Fantasy Flight edition of Cosmic Encounter, which I just bought. One hundred entries! That’s countless hours of unpaid writing and design work—summarising rulesets, designing reference sheets, deep-etching scanned logos and making backgrounds. Why the hell do I do it?

I have no idea. I suppose it’s the same reason I can’t imagine being anything but a graphic designer. I love to make something that is well designed and has a useful purpose, and I love boardgames, and if there’s one thing that improves the experience of playing a boardgame it’s a) not having to trudge through the rulebook for a refresher course everytime you play one and b) having something next to you during the game that saves you from pausing the action while you look something up in a rulebook.

The great thing about boardgames is that you can get completely immersed in the experience. And it’s a very social experience: a group of friends gather around a table and play out some form of shared story, whether co-operatively or competitively. A good reference sheet stops you from being wrenched out of the flow of that story and back into the nitpicking world of the rules that hold it all together.

Basically, it just makes the game more fun.

Also, I get a great deal out of satisfaction from the fact that they seem to make games more fun for a lot of other people all over the world too. I’ve even had people gather together online to buy me a game so they could get reference sheets for it. These are just a few of the scores of comments I’ve had from people who have downloaded my sheets:

“I love your rules summaries, they are the first thing I look for on Boardgamegeek when I have bought a new game.”

“I wanted to drop a note to say thank you for all of the game summaries you’ve made, I find any game that you’ve made a sheet for to be that much more enjoyable when I play it.”

“I just felt you should know that you have fans out there (as if you didn’t know already). I’m one of them. It is only right that you be told! I really appreciate all of the work you’ve done for the gaming community. I know I’ve used and abused your good will and fine work for months, now! Thanks again for all the great work you’ve done!”

Hey, so I’m not changing the world. But I’ve made a few people out there a bit happier.

So, here we are at one hundred entries, with the rules summary and reference sheet for Cosmic Encounter. As usual, print out in colour on card, laminate and trim for best results! Enjoy!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Timo Multamäki
    May 10, 2009 @ 23:15:30

    I have enjoyed some of your reference sheets, like the one for Android. It does make a huge difference compared to the original reference sheets provided by the game authors.
    I don’t know how you choose your games, but I’d like to offer a free copy of Zanziar, a Finnish fantasy board game. It will very soon have a new rulebook and one of the items most complained is the old reference sheet done by myself 😉
    Would you be intersted of such a task?

  2. Universal Head
    May 11, 2009 @ 11:23:18

    Sounds great Timo – I’m always happy to do sheets (and review on this site) games that are sent to me. I’ll contact you direct.

  3. Bruce Moffatt
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:55:14

    Congratulations on your milestone! I can’t say that I own all 100 games you have done reference sheets for but you do own most of my favourites (old and new) as I have mentioned at BGG in the past.
    Well done and here’s to your next ‘century’ 🙂
    (For the record I’m waiting for BGG to come back up so I can get your new ‘Ghost Stories’ sheet. Great game, but if there was ever a rule book in need of the ‘Universal Head’ treatment, it’s that one!