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Subject: Father Geek's Review of Alien Frontiers rss

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Cyrus Kirby
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The Basics:
o For ages 8 and up (publisher recommends 13+)
o For 2 to 4 players
o About 60 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:
o Counting & Math
o Logical & Critical Decision Making
o Worker Placement & Area Control
o Reading

Learning Curve:
o Child – Moderate
o Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:
o Competing factions vie for dominance in colonizing a planet through crafty use of their dice, or should I say, spaceships

Endorsements:
o Gamer Geek approved!
o Parent Geek approved!
o Child Geek approved!

Overview

Alien Frontiers was designed by Tory Niemann and published by Clever Mojo Games in 2011.

The game components include:

o A mounted game board depicting 9 orbital facilities (the areas into which players place their dice) around a planet consisting of 8 territories (areas into which players place their colonies)

o A smaller board that serves as a victory point track

o Six standard six-sided dice in each of 4-player colors, representing the players’ spaceships

o Orange disc tokens representing fuel and gray cube tokens representing ore (these basic resources are used to acquire other improvements)

o Nine dome-shaped colony pieces in each of the 4-player colors

o A deck of cards representing alien technology (rule-breaking items)

Players start the game able to use 3 of their possible 6 dice (and can never be reduced to fewer than 3). On the player’s turn, they roll all available dice and allocate them as they see fit to one or more orbital facilities: the worker placement aspect of the game. In addition to the standard restrictions in most worker placement games (i.e., absolute limits on the total number of workers that can be placed in any one area), there might be additional requirements, such as placing dice with matching or consecutive numbers. As for the benefits:

o The Solar Converter yields fuel tokens

o The Lunar Mine yields ore tokens

o The Orbital Market allows fuel to be traded for ore

o The Alien Artifact yields an alien tech card

o The Raiders’ Outpost enables the player to steal resources or an alien tech card from another player

o The Shipyard allows the player to expand his dice pool

o The Colonist Hub, the Colony Constructor, and the Terraforming Station establish colonies on the planet

The player with the most colonies in any territory controls that territory; each territory provides a specific bonus to the player who controls it. One very nice touch, the territories are named in honor of famous science fiction authors, such as Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl.

Victory points are earned for placing colonies and for controlling territories.

The game ends when a player has placed all of their colonies. The player with the most victory points wins the game.

Prediction

This game would have continued to languish on my shelf unplayed (along with half of my game collection) had I not joined in a pick-up game at a convention late last year. As the rules were being explained to me, my first thought was of Stone Age, another dice/worker placement game. With only 2 types of raw resources, Alien Frontiers strikes me as a simpler version of Stone Age, but with about the same playing time. My children love games with dice (Pickomino and Elder Sign being, for example), so I was tempted to disregard the publisher’s suggested age range and try this with my six-year-old son.

Final Word

I played two 2-player games with my son, each lasting about one hour. He grasped the gameplay very quickly, although I made occasional suggestions about how he could use his dice. On the second play, he eked out a narrow victory over me. On the third play, a 3-player game, he beat my brother and me with only minimal assistance. I have realized that my son enjoys choice and decision-making in games, although he is also prone to analysis paralysis. Therefore, I have learned to set aside extra time for games like this so that the experience is unrushed.

This is an excellent match for his current level of gaming maturity, in terms of game duration, required reading ability, and complexity of decision-making. Although he is proficient in working towards short and medium-term goals, he has difficulty formulating a long-term strategy. Hence, he can be far more competitive in Alien Frontiers than in Agricola or Caylus Magna Carta (admittedly, he still enjoys those other games, too).


Playing the game - all smiles and victory points

Gamer Geeks, Alien Frontiers is too long for a filler and not meaty enough for a square meal (even if you’re vegetarian), and while that may sound like a double failure, it is a pleasant experience for the less hardcore hobbyists.

Parent Geeks, this game presents an excellent opportunity to play competitively and yet assist your child to choose from several options.

Child Geeks, you can focus on making definite progress through establishing colonies every 2-3 turns, while also ensuring that the dice pool (spaceship fleet) remains a respectable size. The game is not trivial; even so, each colony is worth celebrating as an achievement, win or lose.

Written by Meng and published with permission
Respectfully submitted by the Father Geek
fathergeek.com
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Ronnie
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Carrollton
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Just what is it that you want to do? We wanna be free. We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. And we wanna play games. And we wanna have a good time. That's what we're gonna do. We're gonna have a good time. We're gonna have a party!
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fathergeek wrote:
Gamer Geeks, Alien Frontiers is too long for a filler and not meaty enough for a square meal (even if you’re vegetarian), and while that may sound like a double failure, it is a pleasant experience for the less hardcore hobbyists.


I think this game is definitely meaty enough to be the main course of many game nights for folks who love medium length games. I would say that fans of games with a weight similar to Catan, TtR, Dominion, Fresco, Kingdom Builder, Small World, etc will find a game with similar weight here. It's not hard to fit several games in an evening which is a nice bonus as well.
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Tory Niemann
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fathergeek wrote:


Playing the game - all smiles and victory points

This expression right here? This is why I design games.
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Benjamin Maggi
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fathergeek wrote:
Gamer Geeks, Alien Frontiers is too long for a filler and not meaty enough for a square meal (even if you’re vegetarian), and while that may sound like a double failure, it is a pleasant experience for the less hardcore hobbyists.


I would agree. The first time I played it I thought it was a very neat game, but that was because I had never played a dice=worker type game before. After playing Kingsburg several times I now look back on Alien Frontiers with a bit of bias. AF is a nice simple game that is easy to learn but I found there is generally only way "track" or strategy to really win, whereas in Kingsburg there are several (though not 5 as the card may lead you to believe as some are pretty useless.)

All in all, AF might be a good game for kids or those people who are not "Gamers" but as to your meat comment I completely agree.
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CJ
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tk421 wrote:
This expression right here? This is why I design games.


Everyone knows you design them for the champagne and hookers and don't you deny it!!!
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Pasta Batman
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Benjamin Maggi wrote:
fathergeek wrote:
Gamer Geeks, Alien Frontiers is too long for a filler and not meaty enough for a square meal (even if you’re vegetarian), and while that may sound like a double failure, it is a pleasant experience for the less hardcore hobbyists.


I would agree. The first time I played it I thought it was a very neat game, but that was because I had never played a dice=worker type game before. After playing Kingsburg several times I now look back on Alien Frontiers with a bit of bias. AF is a nice simple game that is easy to learn but I found there is generally only way "track" or strategy to really win, whereas in Kingsburg there are several (though not 5 as the card may lead you to believe as some are pretty useless.)

All in all, AF might be a good game for kids or those people who are not "Gamers" but as to your meat comment I completely agree.

I guess I'm not a gamer after all, since I can't stand Kingsburg and love Alien Frontiers.
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Ronnie
United States
Carrollton
Texas
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Just what is it that you want to do? We wanna be free. We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. And we wanna play games. And we wanna have a good time. That's what we're gonna do. We're gonna have a good time. We're gonna have a party!
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pastabatman wrote:
Benjamin Maggi wrote:
fathergeek wrote:
Gamer Geeks, Alien Frontiers is too long for a filler and not meaty enough for a square meal (even if you’re vegetarian), and while that may sound like a double failure, it is a pleasant experience for the less hardcore hobbyists.


I would agree. The first time I played it I thought it was a very neat game, but that was because I had never played a dice=worker type game before. After playing Kingsburg several times I now look back on Alien Frontiers with a bit of bias. AF is a nice simple game that is easy to learn but I found there is generally only way "track" or strategy to really win, whereas in Kingsburg there are several (though not 5 as the card may lead you to believe as some are pretty useless.)

All in all, AF might be a good game for kids or those people who are not "Gamers" but as to your meat comment I completely agree.

I guess I'm not a gamer after all, since I can't stand Kingsburg and love Alien Frontiers.


In my mind your still a gamer...

Perhaps we can join a support group for gamers who love medium/light weight games. We'll call it "being gamers together." ninja
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fen
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pastabatman wrote:
I guess I'm not a gamer after all, since I can't stand Kingsburg and love Alien Frontiers.

You and I both my dear sir.
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Tyler DeLisle
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Redward wrote:
fathergeek wrote:
Gamer Geeks, Alien Frontiers is too long for a filler and not meaty enough for a square meal (even if you’re vegetarian), and while that may sound like a double failure, it is a pleasant experience for the less hardcore hobbyists.


I think this game is definitely meaty enough to be the main course of many game nights for folks who love medium length games. I would say that fans of games with a weight similar to Catan, TtR, Dominion, Fresco, Kingdom Builder, Small World, etc will find a game with similar weight here. It's not hard to fit several games in an evening which is a nice bonus as well.


Exactly, it's games like this that I try my hardest to seek out. Games that are quick to learn, easy to teach, and play in around an hour. They're perfect for breaking out over a lunch break, or during a break at work, or before dinner after work. Or even in a gaming-group, I love being able to play through multiple games with different experiences than one long, drawn out game.

Though I will admit that I wish there was just a bit more to Alien Frontiers, just the slightest bit more options, and slightly longer and it would be perfect. I guess the Factions expansion will offer a few more options, looking forward to getting it.
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Tyler DeLisle
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Styfen wrote:
pastabatman wrote:
I guess I'm not a gamer after all, since I can't stand Kingsburg and love Alien Frontiers.

You and I both my dear sir.


I'm really anxious to get to play Kingsburg. People seem so polarized on whether they hate it or love it. But even then there's a fair amount of people, like Tom Vassel, that like them both and score them similarly.

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