Recommend
109 
 Thumb up
 Hide
26 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

High Frontier (Third Edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Why the 3rd edition is worth it rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Shalom Craimer
Israel
Givat Zeev
(Near Jerusalem)
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
Disclaimer: I don't have a final copy of the 3rd edition yet. I'm playing with a set of game pieces I built myself made to match the 3rd edition rules.

I've finally gotten three plays of the 3rd edition under my belt. I feel I can finally render some verdicts on the new edition. In particular, addressing some of major the weaknesses of the 2nd edition:

Rule Complexity
Learning Curve
Teaching Time
Play Time

Nearly every game night involves new faces. Some may be new to the hobby, but most are merely new to High Frontier. In the 2nd edition of High Frontier, this made it nearly impossible to bring the game to the table. Easily 30 minutes of precious gaming time would be wasted explaining just the bare minimum of rules. Enough at least, to get the players into orbit around the sun, armed with a viable plan to establish a first industrial base.

Would you like to compare that to the 3rd edition rules? Sure, let me just roll a 1d6 here on the 2nd edition rules here... Oh, right -

I rolled a 1.

BOOM!

They got blown out of the sky. Do you know why? It's simple, really. With the new edition, you can teach all the same rules to a new gamer in 15 minutes. Suddenly, High Frontier takes no more time to explain than half of my game collection. This catapaults the game from the obscurity of "we'll play it some other time" to "hey, let's play that now!"

I've managed to teach this game to more people in the past three weeks, than I've been able to teach in the past year.

How does this work? Well, you may have heard that the High Frontier learning curve is more acute than a puppy dog and a kitten feeding a baby sparrow. This is no longer true. The curve has been bulldozed into a gentle incline with rest stops along the way.

Do you think I'm exaggerating? The basic rules in the 2nd edition took up 8 pages of the most densely packed text and concepts in any game. Those eight pages are the equivalent of 30 pages in a regular game, with so many tiny exceptions that the cognitive load is enormous. Too much for an unprepared first-time player. The 3rd edition have shrunk this to 20 pages, all fluidly structured and generously sprinkled with examples. The rules and concepts flow into each other, and reinforce the learning experience.

This means that new players have much less learning distance to travel before they can play. Once they play, they get hooked. You can build on that, and move on. Again, the new edition of the rules help with this. The advanced game has been re-structured into smaller modules. So you can choose what features you want to try, and once the players are comfortable with a set of modules, add more.

My favorite result of the reduced complexity is that the game is faster. The players have an easier time playing by themselves, and they don't have to consult with the teaching player after the first dozen of turns. Just the on-map lander burns save dozens of explanations of how landing and take-off work. This translates into tens of minutes per game.

Bottom line: I'm really enjoying the new edition. thumbsup

P.S. I don't know what to call this. "Session" seemed exceesive, since I was clearly not diligent enough in detailing how the game sessions went. Also, it's more than one session. I'd like to call it an "opinion", so I guess it's a "review". But a real review will only be fair using a production copy. (There's a while for mine to arrive.)
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin L. Kitchens
United States
Gainesville
Georgia
flag msg tools
designer
Snowflakes Melt
badge
Snowflakes Melt
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1. Wow... didn't know scraimer actually played games. Thought he just made BGG easier for us to use!

2. Glad I backed it. Been wanting it for awhile and the chance to get the whole thing at a reasonable price (and even better written to boot!)

BONUS!
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
badge
Chaos is a ladder
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
klkitchens wrote:
1. Wow... didn't know scraimer actually played games. Thought he just made BGG easier for us to use!

2. Glad I backed it. Been wanting it for awhile and the chance to get the whole thing at a reasonable price (and even better written to boot!)

BONUS!

Couldn't have said it better myself - I'm psyched to know that this will be coming into my collection!
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jesse W.
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
Game-playing Meowstic
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That easy to teach? I would love to be able to get my family to play and enjoy High Frontier at some point.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shalom Craimer
Israel
Givat Zeev
(Near Jerusalem)
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
BDSb wrote:
That easy to teach? I would love to be able to get my family to play and enjoy High Frontier at some point.

Very nearly. You can get a new gamer onto the road to the stars, and know that they have a fair chance to play. It always bothers me that I'd be shoving the new players into orbit without some critical bit of knowledge, or knowing they were going to forget something important.

Note: My inner pedant urges me to note that there are plenty of rules I would still have to explain during the game. But that's dwarfed by how amazing it is to watch a new player plan a whole mission from LEO to destination within 30 minutes of opening the box.

Note 2: I have been actively practicing teaching the rules. I still stammer and re-order the flow, but practice helps keep the teaching time short. Once I got serious about getting the game to the table, it was the very least I could do.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Douglas
Australia
Flynn
ACT
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for this review. Interesting read and look forward to confirm the ease of the new rules set when I got my copy.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Del Turner
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
Thanks for the comments! SMG games get more and more ~smooth~ as time goes by without losing much of their original charm. I'm happy to hear this trend continues with the new edition!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Doug Hawes
United States
Ocoee
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
15 Minutes seems like a stretch. (I have not read 3rd edition rules yet)
Have the rules changed that much?
Just explaining the basics like the how to win the game, basic game play, the player matt, and how to transverse the solar system takes at least a half hour if your lucky. soblue
What has changed so much to make rules explanation so easy?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shalom Craimer
Israel
Givat Zeev
(Near Jerusalem)
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
inari7 wrote:
15 Minutes seems like a stretch. (I have not read 3rd edition rules yet)
Have the rules changed that much?
Just explaining the basics like the how to win the game, basic game play, the player matt, and how to transverse the solar system takes at least a half hour if your lucky. soblue
What has changed so much to make rules explanation so easy?

First - the mat has changed. It's much simpler in the 3rd edition. So that scary mat is much less scary now. (Although I never start with the mat.)

Also, the map has changed. So a lot of things are much clearer now.

As for 15 minutes - I cheat and summarize a lot. The goal here is to get people started in playing the game. Once they get a taste, they won't stop playing, because it's such a good game.

My goal with new players is getting them to launch a rocket ASAP. Most new players act as if they are scared of that. But once they do, they are very quickly faced with the tyranny of the rocket equation as expressed in the game through the player mat. Once they manipulate the fuel figure and move they rocket on the board, they become much more free to explore. Especially if you remind them that it's OK to decommission your rocket.

I can break it down, here's how it goes:

I start with goal explanation. (Gamers like hearing how the game ends, and what gives them points).
Quote:
This game is about the commercial development of the inner solar system. The game ends when there are 7 factories built. You can build factories on worlds, these hex-shapes on the map. The more factories you have, the more points you have.
Note, this doesn't explain the whole picture, but it's a good start to make room in their heads for later, when I explain all the details.

This almost always prompts someone to ask "How to we build factories?" or "How do we get there?"

Quote:
It's simple: Take a rocket, and get a Robonaut (point at stack) and a Refinery (point at stack) to a world. If you've already claimed the world, then you can decommission them there, and build a factory. That will allow you build these awesome black sides of these cards.

At this point, I have multiple ways of continuing, depending on people's questions:
- "What's are these (the Thruster) cards?" or "How do I build a rocket?" lead to explaining rockets.
- "Whats difference between these cards?" (pointing at the stack of Robonaut cards, or Refineries.)
- "Why are the black sides better?"
- "How do I claim the world?"
Explaining thrusters is my favorite, because I also get to point out how mass is calculated, and get the whole movement thing done. It'll also help explain why black cards are great - lower mass is a great selling point.

Quote:
The Thruster cards determine how much power your rocket has, and how much fuel it takes to go through a "burn". The purple circles are burns. You start in LEO (point to it), and the first think you'll hit is a burn. Before that, you have to build your rocket. Here, let me show you.

(I take the top card of each stack.)

Quote:
Let's say there are all the cards in your rocket. Put them on the left of your mat. (demonstrate.) See the mass numbers on the cards? Sum them up. So your total mass is X. (Place token on X on mat.) Let's say you also load up 4 tanks of water. (Advance the fuel token 4 steps). See? We add fuel by going across the red lines. But see the black lines? That's how we count "fuel steps". See the numbers on the thruster? The one of the right is the number of fuel steps per burn. The one of the left is the number of burns per turn. (I start moving the rocket on the map from LEO through orbits and burns). You move, and reach a burn (move fuel token counting the number of fuel steps), keep coasting and reach another burn (move fuel token), ... and now we've run out of fuel.

At this point, either someone suggests I take a different route and land somewhere, or I backtrack and do it myself.

Quote:
Here's a different route that lands on a world (shows route, count fuel steps more quickly. Stop before actually landing.) Now, we can only land if the thruster's modified thrust is higher than the size of the world. This world is only of size 2, so no problem. But what if I'd put on more fuel? (Move fuel indicator.) See that now I'm in the "-2" area? That means my thrust would be reduced by 2, which means I wouldn't have enough thrust to land! Anyway, so we land.

So far, I've spent about 5-7 minutes explaining all this. I'm really nearly done. The listeners know how to move around on the map, and know how to use the fuel chart. That's the toughest part of the explanation. They even have enough information to plan a crewed glory mission.

Next, take a step back. Explain turn structure: movement vs actions. Briefly touch on actions: Income, Research, ISRU Refuel, Prospect.

Quote:
Every turn, you get to do a movement and an action. The actions are all listed on your player mat (point to list). Don't worry, you don't need to remember all of them. Now that we've landed, we can use an action to prospect the world and try and claim it. First, check your ISRU. If the number is less or equal to the number of drops on the world, you can try and prospect. Roll the die, and if the number is smaller or equal to the number on the world, you've succeeded! Place your disc on the world. That's a prospect action. On a later turn, if you've brought a robonaut and a refinery, decommission them to perform an industrialize operation and place a factory cube on the world. Oh, and if you do, move the disc on the exploitation track for that world down by one. (Demonstrate.) Now, back to the beginning. Remember I loaded water on the rocket? An easy way to get that, is by performing the Income action which gives 2 WTs. You can only do that to rockets that are in LEO, since WT (kinda like "your money") is only on Earth. You need this money to Boost stuff into LEO. The amount you pay is the same as the cards mass. How do you get more cards? Do a Research action: pick any stack, and offer up the item for bidding. Anyone can bid in any order. If you win, you pay the WTs to the "bank". If someone else does, then they pay you. Finally, if you need a little bit of extra cash, you can sell your white cards for 5 WTs, using a Free Market operation.

That last bit is a big blob of data. It doesn't always stick, but at this point in the explanation, gamers are already imagining themselves playing the game. They'll latch on to the parts they think are important, and everything else will just fly by.

To recap: It's now 10 minutes since the box has been opened. The players have been made aware of almost all the actions.
All that's left is to explain ISRU and ET production, some free actions (LEO refueling, decommission).
Why? Each of these items now expands the range of possibilities for action greatly. It's fun to watch the players mind race as they contemplate how much more they can do with this. It's no longer a game of "Earth-and-back". Instead, they can send a rocket out, and they may spend a long time until it comes back. That epiphany is important in setting the tone for the game play.

At this point, I distribute the crew cards and start the game. Within a 15 minutes everyone has a rocket in space, and some rough idea on where they want to go. They usually stay within the orbit of the asteroids, at least until I cross Jupiter orbit, and show how easy it is.

OK, wow. That was a lot to write.
I'd just like to point out that most of the above also applies to the 2nd edition. However, in the 3rd edition there far fewer exceptions in the basic rules. I don't feel like every thing I say has an asterisk (*) next to it. That's really the biggest difference.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Doug Hawes
United States
Ocoee
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the more detailed explanation.
I am glad things have not changed that much. I'll have to try your approach with my game group sometime. Hope it works out with as much success as you have had.
Thanks again..............Doug
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Any chance you could make a "how to play" video, since you've practiced a bunch? It would be greatly appreciated!
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DominiGeek
Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo
D.N.
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Where can I read 3rd edition rules?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joris
Netherlands
Haarlem
Noord-Holland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
High Frontier 3rd Edition Living Rules
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have 2e. What do I need to play 3e with my game?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shalom Craimer
Israel
Givat Zeev
(Near Jerusalem)
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
falafel007 wrote:
I have 2e. What do I need to play 3e with my game?

It involves a lot of changes, not a simple upgrade. I wrote up a detailed answer here: Re: Question For In-The-Know Folks About 2nd/3rd Editions
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
George Fisher
United States
Lafayette
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Got mine!!! Now to unwrap. And play. That part's important....
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Lokemoen
msg tools
You can definitely explain how to play HF in fifteen minutes -- you could with the earlier editions, as well. You had to have a clear grasp of the rules yourself to do it, but it isn't that hard.

I have taught a ton of people to play and here's how if you're interested. First, grab a good sample thruster, tell your students to ignore everything but the numbers in the triangle, put a ship on the board and show them how to do movement and track fuel. This should take less than five minutes, and they don't have to understand every little intricacy -- they should just understand what the pink spaces mean, what the circles mean, and how to track stuff on their sheet (and we always use hazards, they're not hard to learn, so use those). Also, make it clear what the numbers on the sites mean and how they're used, and that lower ISRU is better. I also like to stress that, within limitations, they decide when their turn ends. They should think about how missions will probably span several turns and you often end your movement in a way that sets up your movement for the next turn.

Next, explain to them that a lot of understanding how to get anything accomplished in HF means moving cards from one place to another, and that many of the standard actions have to do with moving cards around. Tell them that the term "hand" of cards is a misnomer, and you don't actually hold your "hand" of cards in your hand (although you're certainly welcome to pick up your cards to take a good look at them, you need to put them back where they came from). I explain to them that, while the black side of the cards may be interesting, the only way to get a black card into play is with a factory, and they don't need to worry much about that for some time.

Then I cover the basic actions, always using example cards to show how cards go from one place to another; from decks to hands to stacks, etc. I carefully and exactingly talk about what each stack is, means, and does, both in the game and what it represents in real life. This should take another five minutes or so, I suppose.

I found that many players got lost or confused about what they should be trying to do with these actions. I build a sample rocket stack with all the supports and explain how these cards works together. Then I talk about ways that I might be able to score points with this rocket. I usually then cover every way to make points.

Usually the last thing I talk about is factories. I reiterate the recipe for a factory -- "decomission any robonaut and any refinery and all of their supports except for radiators on a site that you prospected" (and repeat). I tell them that building a factory may not be the first thing they want to do, and that it's possible to win the game without building any factories (I suppose), but until they build a factory they really won't understand the rules of the game. I tell them that if they really can't decide what to do at any point in the game, they should endeavor to build a factory. I show them how this can be done in steps, or in a single big mission, and the ups and downs of those two possibilities.

OK, maybe it takes twenty minutes, but it seems to work pretty well. Especially for such a detailed and sometimes counter-intuitive game we play very casually and are quick to give take-backsies and do-overs. I care a lot more about getting them to understand the game than I do about who wins. For several turns, I carefully explain my movement and fuel consumption, which action I am choosing, and I step them through the resolution, and sometimes my reasoning for what I am choosing to do.

I save a lot of rules to be taught as the game progresses. You don't need to completely understand why you might want to use open-cycle cooling when you first start playing HF. You can catch that stuff as you go.

Learning High Frontier is about understanding how movement works, how cards get from one place to another, and how you use these systems to get things accomplished.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Donald Cleary
United States
Bellingham
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
15 minutes? Make a video. It would be most welcome.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Fowler
United States
New Mexico
flag msg tools
Tierra del Fuego, or bust.
badge
Memento rapinas et latrocinia ante ardere!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
YourHighnessness wrote:
You can definitely explain how to play HF in fifteen minutes -- you could with the earlier editions, as well. You had to have a clear grasp of the rules yourself to do it, but it isn't that hard.

This.

In a nut shell.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Frank McNally
United States
Andover
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Does third edition have a separate clear explanation of how to play what was originally called "advanced", i.e. using all the supports but not colonization? Is that a worthwhile game? When I was teaching myself with older set I wanted to focus on rockets and not on the colonization vehicles but the rules were too interleaved and one had to use the first edition and those rules were clunky.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Speare
United States
Bedford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
tee hee, that tickles!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
FrankM wrote:
Does third edition have a separate clear explanation of how to play what was originally called "advanced", i.e. using all the supports but not colonization? Is that a worthwhile game? When I was teaching myself with older set I wanted to focus on rockets and not on the colonization vehicles but the rules were too interleaved and one had to use the first edition and those rules were clunky.

3rd edition has the basic game rules in their own section, then has sections for the advanced game. Slingshots, events, radiation, FFTs, and government are all presented as inherent to the advanced game. Everything else is modular, although you need to use the support module for anything else to work more or less.

It's easy to play with the inherent stuff plus supports and it's a fine game. It's not too hard to take out events (not that I would) and/or government.



2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Frank McNally
United States
Andover
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Am I correct that in an early edition perhaps first, the advanced game primarily expanded the game by requiring supports for rockets (this may have been the original expansion). That was small step and probably sped game up by allowing extra draws during research which provided extra cards to sell.

Now I think in 3rd edition, the supports are part of the Colonization game. Is that correct?

Would there be any issue playing with 3rd edition set but only adding in the supports? Would it work well are there other rules which need inclusion? I am looking for the basic game with all bells and whistles for rockets and factories but avoiding colonists, bernals, etc.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rex Stites
United States
Lawrence
Kansas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
FrankM wrote:
Am I correct that in an early edition perhaps first, the advanced game primarily expanded the game by requiring supports for rockets (this may have been the original expansion). That was small step and probably sped game up by allowing extra draws during research which provided extra cards to sell.

Now I think in 3rd edition, the supports are part of the Colonization game. Is that correct?

Would there be any issue playing with 3rd edition set but only adding in the supports? Would it work well are there other rules which need inclusion? I am looking for the basic game with all bells and whistles for rockets and factories but avoiding colonists, bernals, etc.

The "base game" of HF3 is just the base cards w/o supports. The advanced game is modular, which allows for the inclusion or exclusion of all the various bits, depending on what you want to play with. The supports module must be used with all the other modules, but there's no reason as far as I know that you can't just add supports. There are modules for GW Thrusters, Colonists, Freighters, and Bernals (probably some other things I'm missing).

IIRC, even if you don't use the Colonists module, you can still create colonies for VP. The Colonists are an extra research deck that allow you to have actual "colonists" at various locations to do extra things (they tend to give additional actions).

Similarly, the playing without the freighters modules doesn't completely omit freighters. There are generic freighters in the base game that allow transport of Black cubes. You don't track fuel or dry/wet mass for them, they always have 1 TMP, and don't exist except when created at the same time as a black card is produced. The Freighters module adds another research deck and different types of freighters with different capabilities.

The "Advanced" game adds some other rules, such as sling shots and the solar cycle to the game, but they're not rules intensive.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Frank McNally
United States
Andover
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks, I assume advanced is where you pick up the radiation rules as well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   |