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Subject: A review of HF: Colonization rss

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Rel Lor
New Zealand
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I've been lurking on here a while so I thought it was time to contribute. High frontier: Colonization seems a good place to start:

Firstly, to give some background I am quite a mixed gamer, enjoying things from Arkham Horrors' thematic style, to hard strategy such as Dominant Species. I'm relatively new to HF so view this review in that light.

First Impressions
First impressions of this product were mixed. The lack of a box was initially somewhat disappointing, however the quality of the board, components (cubes and extra disks) and cards was excellent (I felt the cards especially were better than the original.) There are however a few minor problems - board alignment being the most significant. The decision to print the player guide and politics track as part of the rulebook was also not ideal, but easily worked around by taking a copy.

Taking a more detailed look at the components it is hard not to be impressed. The board has about the most detailed solar system map you will ever see, significantly improving upon the base game alone. The new rulebook seemed somewhat easier to read than the previous, with the new modules being intriguing and well thought out additions to the game. I also enjoyed the technical section that explains the technologies behinds the game.

Gameplay
The gameplay of this expansion almost without exception improves upon the base game. The new modules allow greater scope for victory, with numerous paths adding to the success of your rocket building efforts. The sense of player interaction is dramatically increased with elections, conversion of other teams dissident colonists and anti-trust measures all being possible . The bernal, colony and endgame modules make the later game much more satisfying and the overall 'feel' of a developing spacefaring society is much increased. My only complaint with the modules is that the sudden appearance of the bernal from the games beginning feels rather odd if you are familiar only with the base game.

Rocket building has been significantly improved with the multiple supports and hi-tech black/purple cards that become available later. I found that this seemed to increase interactions in game due to trade for certain patent cards becoming more integral.
The endgame module is perhaps my favourite part of the new game. The new futures open up a lot of variety in win conditions, as well as a few for the psychopath in all of us - after all who doesn't want to throw an asteroid or two in the direction of an unruly planet. Failing these win conditions also adds to the narrative just as much as succeeding - blowing up an asteroid science base whilst trying to develop antimatter caused some hilarity in our group devil.

Conclusion
So to wrap this all up - If you like High Frontier at all, get this. This expansion so massively enhances the base game that I would never play without it. The price is quite reasonable for what you get as well. I have also found the increased options made several of the less keen players in my group actually get more involved and enjoy the game.

My Rating : 8.5
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Robert Fox
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Chandler
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Thanks for the quick review.

The Colonization map lined up fine with my second edition base map. Perhaps you have the first edition (which didn't line up perfectly with the previous expansion)?

I agree with the bernals starting on the map. Although it would make a long game longer, it would be more thematic for me if the bernals had to be boosted after some global event (a player getting a manned mission to a planet and back, for example). The bernals starting outside of LEO made the early rocket launches a little less interesting.

I especially enjoy the expanded victory conditions. I felt the base game always ended right as the game was getting good (efficent rockets built on space manufactured parts just starting to come online).
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Rel Lor
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Thanks for the feedback! I will try looking at my map again (I use the poster map mainly), perhaps it was user error. We tried a variant yesterday in which you boost the first bernal for 10 wt (like the ersatz bernal)and gain 2 VP for first bernal. It seemed to work ok, though it does increase the game length like you said.
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Phil Eklund
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FuManchu wrote:

I agree with the bernals starting on the map. Although it would make a long game longer, it would be more thematic for me if the bernals had to be boosted after some global event (a player getting a manned mission to a planet and back, for example). The bernals starting outside of LEO made the early rocket launches a little less interesting.


An early Colonization version, playtested for months, started the game with the Bernals unboosted. No humans other than legacy crew could be boosted until the mass 10 Bernal was boosted. Furthermore, all the traditional player privileges (NASA Launch Fees, ESA powersat, UN cycler, etc.) were deactivated until one got a Bernal both boosted and promoted. None of the playtesters liked this, even with a fast start option bypassing this step. Although it did offer a significant decision agony of robotic vs. human exploration as the first steps, the interminable delay when everyone wanted to get into space fast & farther, led to the death of the unboosted Bernal Option.
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Robert Fox
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Chandler
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phileklund wrote:

An early Colonization version, playtested for months, started the game with the Bernals unboosted. No humans other than legacy crew could be boosted until the mass 10 Bernal was boosted. Furthermore, all the traditional player privileges (NASA Launch Fees, ESA powersat, UN cycler, etc.) were deactivated until one got a Bernal both boosted and promoted. None of the playtesters liked this, even with a fast start option bypassing this step. Although it did offer a significant decision agony of robotic vs. human exploration as the first steps, the interminable delay when everyone wanted to get into space fast & farther, led to the death of the unboosted Bernal Option.


So basically the bernals did not start on the map, but could be boosted for 10wt? Early decision making boiled down to either getting a quick jump on making claims, or spending a few turns getting the bernal up before starting exploring?

That should be an easy enough variant to implement.
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