I got in on a 4 man, 4 planet game with the new expansion and it was great, though I got my ass kicked all across the galaxy during this particular game. Fantasy Flight continues to prove that they are making the ultimate version of Cosmic Encounter with no let up in sight. The new expansion is mostly about the new set of 20 aliens, but the 7th player cards and ships helps (black looks much better than I thought it would).
As for new rules and stuff in the box, the Hazard deck was entertaining in our first game, but it definitely made the game more crazy. One of the Hazard cards shuffles all the cards in the hands of the player and redistributes them (same number of cards, just random ones) and this was a game changer as the landscape of Flare cards was instantly different. A second hazard card is proof that the fantasy flight version of Cosmic Encounter will never have the Reverse Cone as one of the new Hazard cards did just that (Defensive allies get a base, offensive allies get cards). Really thinking about the Reverse cone and the hassles surrounding it (it comes up too often in the Mayfair version) I don’t think I will miss it in the FF version.
Though others may dig it, the alien power I played in this first game did I was not a huge fan of: Warhawk. Essentially, the Warhawk never negotiates and gets either a free Morph or a negotiate card converts to a 00 attack card. I am a wheeler and dealer and not having the option of negotiating with other aliens is tough to swallow tactically, and also means you are always going to have to fight for your bases. With so many better combat powers out there, Warhawk is going to have a tough time competing when he can only fight it out all the time.
All in all, art, components and new rules in Cosmic Conflict are top notch and if we needed even more excuse to just play Cosmic Encounter over all other games, here it is.