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Subject: New Frontiers as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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This is part of my series of reviews of how multiplayer games work with just 2. For the full list see: My 2 player game reviews.

Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?

There is only one rules change, and that's the fact that each player takes lead role on two turns in each round, rather than just one with more players.

The number of buildings available in the middle also scales with the number of players, so just one of each type is available with 2, 3 with 3-4 and 4 with 5. Other things, like number of colonists and VPs available, are also direct multipliers of the number of players in the game.

How is the game different with 2?

The gameplay is remarkably similar to the multiplayer game with just 2, but the ability to choose lead roles more frequently does change your thinking, as you have more control on the roles chosen, and the order they're chosen in (which is often quite important). The more players there are, the more you need to be able to react to other people's picks, rather than be in control of your own destiny. In the multiplayer game you want to be doing what everyone else is doing, so as to take advantage of their role picks, but that's less important in 2 player, and in fact if just one player is going for a consume strategy that is much more powerful in 2 player, as you can take produce/consume yourself every turn, rather than relying on someone else to help you out in the multiplayer game, or just produce/consuming every other turn.

The limited number of buildings doesn't change things greatly, but if there is a particular building that you both want you have to be a bit more determined about going for it - which usually comes up most when you have races that are trying to do similar things.

One minor difference is that you still draw the same number of colonies out of the bag at all player counts, so you feel like you have more to choose from with just 2, whereas as fourth pick in a 4 player game you can sometimes feel rather limited! This means you're less likely to end up with colonies you don't actually want to settle.

Other than that, the gameplay doesn't feel greatly different. It still feels very like Puerto Rico, and the 2 player game feels like the official variant for Puerto Rico in many ways too, although without the double turns, as in this "variant" both players get two picks in the same order every turn, unless someone takes the role that changes turn order.

The other major bonus for me with just 2 players is that it takes a lot less time to play - but I'm unsure yet whether this is the reduced player count, or just that when I'm playing with just 2 I'm playing with players more familiar with the game, which speeds it up considerably! It could be that with more players having to action each role pick the multiplayer game is always going to be longer.

Verdict:

I will just as happily play this with 2 players as with more.
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Brent Celmins
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Chandler
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It’s really terrific at 2p. It’s the most tense and skill-based version of any game in the franchise.
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Anderson
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SWxNW wrote:
It’s really terrific at 2p. It’s the most tense and skill-based version of any game in the franchise.
Yes it is.
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Andrew
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I tried it the first time today at 2 players, and it felt very good. My opponent, who struggled to understand and enjoy Race, readily picked this up and put up a decent fight. I even noticed that I made a couple of mistakes during play, so I'm excited to dig into this one -- there's something for a Race veteran to learn.

It feels much tighter and more tense. I'm hoping there's enough variety in the box to keep me interested for at least 100 plays. Base Race still holds my interest after at least 1,000 plays (but it's apples and oranges because Race has several good computer versions now and I can play it in five or seven minutes with the right opponent -- same goes for Arc 2).
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Rob Hart
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How long does it play with 2? I'm guessing 45m - 1h, is that right? Or is it more like 30m - 45m?
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Brent Celmins
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Chandler
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My wife and I can finish a 2p game in 20-30 minutes, though your first couple of plays will take longer as you get familiar with the tiles.
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Sharon Khan
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Shefford
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It depends whether you include set-up time! But yes, easily under half an hour when familiar with the tiles.
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Jeff Kahan
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Annandale
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Thanks for another 2 player distillation of play Sharon!
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