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Subject: Waiter, there's a zirl in my soup! rss

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Graham Lockwood
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I purchased this game at CanCon last month and was attracted by the price, box art and subject.

The contents of the box revealed a goodly amount of components with nice artwork, and so appeared to have both quality & quantity for the price.

The rulebook is short, to the point and generally well written & laid out. As pointed out by others on this games' forum, I agree that the first few pages of the rulebook (dedicated to the background story) entirely misses the mark in both humor & composition....but don't let that put you off. The rulebook contained some ambiguities, but were cleared up by the Frontiers FAQ, and this seems to be de rigueur for new releases these days and is a welcome by-product of cyberspace.

The game subject matter is centered on a future confrontation between humans (legionnaires) and alien robots (Zirls). The scale of the infantry combatants are depicted on the generous 1.5 inch circular counters and show between one and three figures. The larger sized elliptical vehicle counters show one (armored vehicle) type of unit. A nice feature of the counters are the inclusion of all stats required for the game and are color coded & iconized for ease of use. All counters are back printed and as such, some units are flipped to simulate partial losses, some are flipped to indicate elimination and some of the large armored vehicles receive small damage markers directly on them when they are face-up.

Other components contained in the box include a standard sized poster map showing basic desert/moonscape type of terrain, which is a nice addition for small actions but tends to be cluttered when using a high density of combatants and so the rules suggest using a 4'x2' table or larger. Also contained are a decent number of rectangular parts of buildings and elliptical tiles to add to the map as terrain. Since movement uses ruler measurement (supplied in the game box), infantry movement within buildings is simplified by connected 1.5 inch circles (same size as the infantry counters, funnily enough) so that they move from one circle to the next without having to fiddle about with ruler measurement. Buildings can be constructed by the many tiles supplied and are simply butted up against each other to form a large building or numerous small ones. Features represented on the building tiles include rooms, windows, passageways and doors. All tiles feature quality sci-fi artwork and include building stats & shooting modifiers for windows and doors. Since buildings can be destroyed after taking the required amount of hits, the tile flip-side features rubbled terrain. It's good to see that all stats and modifiers on both units and terrain are present and as such, does not require constant reference to the rules. This feature certainly speeds up play.

One of the main features of the game is the fog-of-war and uncertainties of combat which are adequately represented by two decks of action cards (each being unique to a particular side - although there are some similarities present). There are too many cards to feature in this review, suffice to say that there are enough in each deck to confound, disrupt and frustrate your opponents' plans, in addition to enhancing your own. Finally, there are numerous counters used in the game and these include smoke & blast templates, secret equipment caches, damage counters, the famous six-sided dice and scenario victory condition markers. A small number of fairly standard miniatures style scenarios are included, but the high replay ability of this game will no doubt spawn new ones on-line. All in all, there's enough here to keep you interested and occupied for quite a time.

Ok, after all that, let's get down to play. This game has a smallish learning curve and it only takes a few games to catch on to the combinations & subtleties of play. As an overview, play consists of allocating uniquely numbered order counters face down on the units you wish to receive orders during this turn. Each player reveals their identical numbered order, starting with order number one, and takes an action with the unit it is placed upon. When all orders have been exposed and carried out, the turn ends, all order counters are recovered from the map and a new turn ensues. In detail, each turn plays exactly like this:

(1) Preparation phase.
At the start of the game, each player draws four action cards from his/her deck into hand. After this, all the following prep turns allow a player to discard up to his/her entire hand and re-stock back up to four.

(2) Order phase.
The numerical order counters are allocated face down on to units a player wishes to activate this turn. Since armies are created by adding the build points for each unit taken within a scenario defined limit, up to 500 points gets you two order markers, up to 1000 gets you four, and over 1000 gets you a maximum of six orders. In addition, 'officer' type infantry units (if taken) can also provide up to three additional orders per officer. However, if such units are eliminated, you will loose these extra orders. Finally, there are two 'dummy' orders each side can use to (hopefully) confuse your opponent. There is a fair amount of subtlety involved in this play mechanic. Which units will you activate? In which order? How will your opponent allocate his/her? Other extenuating circumstances may involve the play of cards, scenario victory parameters and the condition of various units vis a vis potential elimination.

(3) Activation phase.
Here is the real meat of the game. When each opposing pair of units are activated by order, the player with the lowest unit movement value declares its' action first and each player may only do one of the four actions described below (dice roll decides ties). This quasi-initiative mechanic may allow the player with the higher movement to modify his/her planned action based on what the opponents' revealed action is. After both actions are verbally revealed, they are carried out in strict sequential order as follows:

[1] Move
[2] Shoot (& melee)
[3] Play an action card
[4] Activate a units' special ability

Note that a unit that is activated to move will do so before an opposing unit that is activated to shoot, and that a unit activating a special ability will do so after his/her opponent has either moved, shot or played an action card. So there is a hierarchy involved in taking the four actions available. Combat simply involves a d6 roll versus the targets' defense and is modified by various situations which are both logical and un-complicated.

(4) Reserve phase.
The end part of the turn allows any unit not allocated an order during the order phase (and includes dummy ordered units) to either move or activate a special ability (actions 1 & 4 above). Units can be so activated in any order, with movement (and dice rolls) deciding order if the players require it.

So there you have it. What I haven't touched upon is the surprising depth of play that this game provides, given the wide range of units, their various special abilities coupled with the natural vagaries of action card use, and the elegant sequence of play and simplicity of the rules.

I'll give it a BGG 8 out of 10 and look forward to some more Frontier expansions in the future (forgive the pun).
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Troy Losse
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Greensboro
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Thanks for writing up this game. I have it on order and can't wait to play.
 
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Mr. Money
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How difficult are the rules for someone who hasn't played anything beyond Settlers of Catan or San Juan? I'm just wondering if I could get my brother-in-law to play this. He doesn't like fiddly rules. Or is this game suited for someone who has some experience with miniature gaming?

Fine review, I might add...well done!

cheers

 
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Tom Grant
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In terms of complexity, Frontiers looks like one of the easiest miniatures (or, in this case, pseudo-miniatures) games out there. The first time through, a new player might puzzle over the several different stats printed on some of the larger counters. You might also, in a learning game for someone not used to miniatures games, leave out the cards.
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Graham Lockwood
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This is obviously a completely different type of game from Settlers or SJ.
I think that anyone new to this game would have to be seduced by the art & subject matter, or alternatively a miniature gamer. It's really a (wargame) style combat game when all said & done.

I would certainly be wary of introducing this type of game to a Eurogamer.

Thanks for your kind comments.
 
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Well if you rate it an '8' I guess I have to get a copy too.

Be there some pyrates in the game? arrrh
 
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Graham Lockwood
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......hmmm, I've been closely following your contributions here on BGG and am impressed by the quantity & quality of your prose. My opinion is that you have far too much time on your hands to be a pirate and that you may have an obsession with boardgaming.

You may need to be committed to the HPS (Harry Potter Suite).
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clem seurat
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Hi guys ! I'm Clem, co-author of the game with Yann... We're french so excuse my french. No, i'm kidding, sorry for my awfull english.
We're working on ad-on for Frontiers. For the moment, this is only in french but you can understand by yourself except some details. Never mind, you'll have a english version soon on our website.
http://www.yc-games.com/
Hope you'll like it
clem

Ps : and yes, it will be pirates !!
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Graham Lockwood
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....nice one Clem....got the terrain pdf's from your site.
Looks to be some nice stuff here for Frontiers...hope to see it in English soon.
 
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Scott Everts
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picoloclem wrote:
Hi guys ! I'm Clem, co-author of the game with Yann... We're french so excuse my french. No, i'm kidding, sorry for my awfull english.
We're working on ad-on for Frontiers. For the moment, this is only in french but you can understand by yourself except some details. Never mind, you'll have a english version soon on our website.
http://www.yc-games.com/
Hope you'll like it
clem

Ps : and yes, it will be pirates !!


Can you tell us when you plan to have an English verison of your website up? I see there's a bunch of nice PDF downloadable expansions to the game but sadly I can't read them. This game looks great and planning to pick up a copy in my next game order. Would love to get this new stuff.
 
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clem seurat
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i will translate it as soon as possible, BUT, i'm not a professional translater and my english is what it is... So, you would show some tolerance for the mistakes (and if someone wants to help me...).
You could find it in the futur "Frontiers US version" on our website, may be at the end of the month for the firts PDFs
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Adam Skinner
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picoloclem wrote:
i will translate it as soon as possible, BUT, i'm not a professional translater and my english is what it is... So, you would show some tolerance for the mistakes (and if someone wants to help me...).
You could find it in the futur "Frontiers US version" on our website, may be at the end of the month for the firts PDFs


If you do the translation, I'm sure you'll find a couple of grammar nazis to help polish the thing. Post it up on the geek!
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Vincent Appel
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I would be willing to help with the translation. I am a writer so I have a fairly strong grasp of the English language and could help polish any confusing/awkward sentences.

-v
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