Rel Lor
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I was surprised to see that High Frontier (3rd Edition) has elicited so few reviews. While I would still say that I am in the early stages of my High Frontier career, I think this is a game worthy of examination. High Frontier as a series has a rather unique take on game design which some players will appreciate and others will be terrified of; it is unashamed of complexity in its strive for a real representation of the colonization of space.

Components wise the 3rd edition is a large step up in quality from previous editions. The decision to provide both a large and small map was excellent, and the detail on it is insane. The cardstock is good for all components, especially the map. The map has a lot going on in it but I believe the icons are relatively clear and easy to understand once one is familiar with the rules. The box is also a decent size and solidly made. Cards are also nicely designed and deliver information better than previous versions.

Rules: This is absolutely the clearest and most polished version by a huge margin. The rulebook is VASTLY superior, the colour coding of cards and icons is better, the fuel tracks are much clearer, and the layout is improved. The modular nature of the rules is also cunningly designed to help new players learn each section more easily. However this said, I would still expect this game to be a tough learning experience even for gamers used to medium or higher weighted games.

Hitting-the-table is certainly the biggest problem for this game. While the theme and awe-inspiring nature of the map attracted a lot of initial attention, only a small core group managed to survive the learning period required (in a very experienced gaming group). It is clearly the most complex game that anyone in the group had played, though I believe the complexity is essential to what it wishes to achieve and adds hugely to the thematic feel. I must also commend the designer for the impressive way in which the in game complexity links explicitly to the real science behind space travel. However, despite the clear reasons for this, it leads to the problem that the game by-nature limits those who will play it, and requires a significant buy in to learn (and it is not a short game – with all modules on I am impressed if people get this under 3 hours).

Gameplay/Simulation is a massive strength of this title. Anyone at all interested in space travel will find this incredibly thematic, accurate to near-future/plausible technologies and well thought out. The competition between nations for the solar system is also well thought out and adds another tension to the ‘will I die in space’ feeling of each rocket launch – though I worry some of this is lost with the BGG recommended 3 players. The futures are also epic and insanely satisfying to achieve – though they can make the game last a lot longer.
In conclusion this is a game I love, but with some reservations. It is without a doubt one of the most ambitious games out there in scope, which is a major strength for those willing to invest in it, but a huge weakness in terms of attracting new players. I would be extremely hesitant to recommend this to any group that does not routinely play very heavy games despite how very much I am personally impressed by it. Once learned however, it is one of the best simulations that creates amazing storied about solar system colonization every time it hits the table.

Personal Score: 8.5 Recommend to Others: Only if into heavy games or space travel
Strengths: Simulation, Theme, Narrative, Science/Learning
Challenges: Learning time/complexity (large initial investment)
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LordSun
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Sums it up for me.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to play 3/4 of the game using the basic rules only, and I totally agree, I can see this game as low acceptance to even attempt to learn for most groups, but the game got me thinking a lot even though I didn't finish it.

I have a pal who compares it to Leaving Earth a bit, and he said HF is definitely the more superior version of space flight, but he wonders if there is anything about food supplies and all in the advance game, his criticism is just that you can ditch your crew and nothing really bad will happen (?), we're not too sure since we didn't go through the advance rules.

All in all, great great game, will get the reprint if it ever comes out, so far loving Eklund's takes on game.
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Dom Rougier
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Raiden00 wrote:
I have a pal who compares it to Leaving Earth a bit, and he said HF is definitely the more superior version of space flight, but he wonders if there is anything about food supplies and all in the advance game, his criticism is just that you can ditch your crew and nothing really bad will happen (?), we're not too sure since we didn't go through the advance rules.


Life support in High Frontier is supposed to be closed-loop (or near enough), so there's no need to model supplies. With one mass point being 40 tons, there's a fair amount of wiggle room there for agroponics and so forth.

Leaving your crew stranded somewhere is not a good idea. Unless you have the PRC's power, you can't discard them at will, so getting them stuck somewhere means you lose access to them.

Your crew are the easiest way to prevent glitches in the full game, which can be devastating. They're also the easiest access you have to a high-thrust rocket, which can be extremely important, depending on where you're going. They also allow you to claim-jump in Anarchy and War, and protect a claim from being claim-jumped.

You can do most of the above with Colonist cards, but you have to research them, they come with other issues (max colonists in space limit), and are often heavier, or don't have inherent thrusters.
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LordSun
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Domfluff wrote:
Life support in High Frontier is supposed to be closed-loop (or near enough), so there's no need to model supplies. With one mass point being 40 tons, there's a fair amount of wiggle room there for agroponics and so forth.

Leaving your crew stranded somewhere is not a good idea. Unless you have the PRC's power, you can't discard them at will, so getting them stuck somewhere means you lose access to them.

Your crew are the easiest way to prevent glitches in the full game, which can be devastating. They're also the easiest access you have to a high-thrust rocket, which can be extremely important, depending on where you're going. They also allow you to claim-jump in Anarchy and War, and protect a claim from being claim-jumped.

You can do most of the above with Colonist cards, but you have to research them, they come with other issues (max colonists in space limit), and are often heavier, or don't have inherent thrusters.


Sounds like we have tons more to explore in the full game, am excited to explore more before I get my hands on Bios genesis and megafauna 2

thanks!
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Dom Rougier
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Oh, High Frontier is basically the greatest thing ever. It's a niche game, and you need players who are excited about it, but it's superb.
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Victor van Santen
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In order to ease the learning curve, I can highly recommend the use of player aids (I like the one-sheet aid in the files section).

Being able to check up on details or find another operation/free action, which you now need is a big deal. The existing player board tells you (in words) what you can do, but not really what they mean. So it expects you to remember hundreds of details (site refueling has many options, industrialize does not need thermal radiators, etc.), which are easily gathered in such a player aid.
 
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Too bad I can't seem to find a copy in Canada =/
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Ricardo Jorge
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BroknDice wrote:
Too bad I can't seem to find a copy in Canada =/


This edition was pretty much limited to the campaign on Kickstarter. I am not sure it has hit the stores in large scale, if it did at all.
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Joshua Lowe
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rjorge wrote:
BroknDice wrote:
Too bad I can't seem to find a copy in Canada =/


This edition was pretty much limited to the campaign on Kickstarter. I am not sure it has hit the stores in large scale, if it did at all.


There was a big fiasco with a bunch of stores offering preorders then never getting the copies to fulfill them. I was fortunate to catch wind of this in time to get one of the few leftover copies directly from the publisher.
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There was a thread about that update-phil-eklund.

The publisher (OSS) and the author (SMG) had some disagreement and the game didn't have a run outside the kickstarter campaign.
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