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Subject: FLEET ACADEMY: The economics of Alien Frontiers rss

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Brandon Freels
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Since I have been playing a great deal of Alien Frontiers and worked on The Interstellar Council expansion for the game, I thought that I would submit an economic breakdown of Alien Frontiers. These values should be considered as a rule of thumb for play and there are always exceptions to what is said here. Much of the game is finding the opportunities for a bargain and if it is worth the time invested. That being said, here we go...


BASICS

The basic economic unit (credit) for Alien Frontiers is $1 which is also the same value as 1 fuel. So 1 fuel = $1

1 ship in a fleet = $2. The reason for this is that on average a die will come up 3.5, so you can put an average die in the Solar Converter and get 2 fuel ($2). Also, it costs 2 fuel ($2) to activate the Orbital Teleporter and re-use one of your ships.

1 ore = $3. It is probably a bit more but this keeps it simple. Usually to get an ore from the Lunar Mine you are going to need a 6 and you might be able to get away with a 5. Putting a 5 or 6 in the Solar Converter will get you 3 fuel ($3).

1 basic colony drop = $4. This is the fee required to drop a colony from 2 of the 3 colony orbital stations: 1 fuel + 1 ore ($1+$3). We will have this on the menu as needed for the basic cost of a colony drop.

1 combo = $1. This is the "penalty cost" for each extra ship when you have to use more than 1 ship to get the effect desired. Each ship can give you 1 action for your turn, and when an extra ship is needed to perform an action the amount you can do in a turn is reduced. This causes a reduction in choice for your turn.

1 Alien Tech Card (ATC) = $5. You acquire an ATC from the Alien Artifact and usually use 2 dice to get a choice from 9 ATC ($2ship + $2ship + $1combo = $5).

So to sum up what we have so far:

1 fuel = $1
1 ship = $2
1 ore = $3
1 colony fee (basic) = $4
1 ATC = $5
combo penalty per extra ship = $1


INCOME

Let's consider that instead of rolling a fleet of ships, I give you a credit payment to do things at the start of your turn instead. I also give you a $1 combo bonus for every 2 ships in your fleet. Your income per turn would be:

3 ships = $7
4 ships = $10
5 ships = $12
6 ships = $15
7 ships = $17

Notice the jump between 3-4 ships and 5-6 ships. This is why having 4 ships is much better than 3 (the extra combo) and if you feel like you can't do much with 3 dice but things start working when you have your 4th, this is why. Also, the jump to 6 dice is a big one and reflected here as well. With 6 dice you can run the board like a billiard table and do a raid + a basic turn in the same go. This is why having 6+ dice in your fleet is a declaration of war and you should not let anyone roll that many ships.


ORBITAL STATIONS

Solar Converter
Base station. Convert a ship into its credit value ($1/$2/$3)

Lunar Mine
Convert 1 ship into $3

Colonist Hub
To land a colony = $18 ( ($2ship)*7 + $4colony )
To end a 4-player game = $108 (6 hub landings)
To end a 3-player game = $126 (7 hub landings)
To end a 2-player game = $144 (8 hub landings)
This is the slow but sure method to land a colony.

Colony Constructor
To land a colony = $19 ( ($2ship)*3 + $1 combo + $1combo + ($3ore)*3 + ~$2pita )
This is a quicker way to get a colony, I added $2 because of the difficulty of getting a triple and 3 ore at the same time. You probably had to use some fuel and alien tech to tweak it.

Shipyard
This is how much it costs to improve your future rate of income by 1 level:
Relic Ship = $4. Excellent! ...but risky since it probably will be taken from you. You need to have it for 2 turns or terraform it to get back your investment.
4th colored ship = $9 ( ($2ship)*2 + $1combo + $1fuel + $3ore )
5th colored ship = $13 ( ($2ship)*2 + $1combo + ($1fuel)*2 + ($3ore)*2 )
6th colored ship = $17 ( ($2ship)*2 + $1combo + ($1fuel)*3 + ($3ore)*3 )
This is why you should discard a Plasma Cannon to destroy a colored ship rather than the Relic, they are more expensive to replace.

Terraforming Station
I am adding into the value the cost to replace the ship in order to reflect the income penalty. Also, the ship value is $3 since you need a 6.
Relic Ship for a colony = $11 ( $3ship + $4colony + $4replace ) HOT DANG! DO IT!
4th colored ship for a colony = $16 ( $3ship + $4colony + $9replace )
5th colored ship for a colony = $20 ( $3ship + $4colony + $13replace )
6th colored ship for a colony = $24 ( $3ship + $4colony + $17replace )
This is why if you let an opponent crush the Relic Ship in the Terraforming Station, you are in trouble. They are way ahead in the colony race. The 5th and 6th ship are more expensive to terraform, but by the end game income doesn't matter as much and you won't be replacing the ships. So you are ready to commence Operation Dumbo Drop for the win.

Alien Artifact
1 Alien Tech Card (ATC) = $5 ( $2ship + $2ship + $1combo ).
You acquire an ATC from the Alien Artifact and usually use 2 dice to get a choice from 9 ATC.

Orbital Market
Lets assume we want to trade in order to get 3 ore for the Colony Constructor.
To be able to trade at all = $5 ( $2ship + $2ship + $1combo )
With pair of 1s = $8 ( $5trade + 3fuel )
With pair of 2s = $11 ( $5trade + 6fuel )
With pair of 3s = $14 ( $5trade + 9fuel )
With pair of 4s = $17 ( $5trade + 12fuel )
With pair of 5s = $20 ( $5trade + 15fuel )
With pair of 6s = $23 ( $5trade + 18fuel ) Come on! Just go into the Lunar Mine!
To have 3 ore is $9. So trading with ones is good, twos is at a loss, threes if you are desperate for an ore. Anything else isn't worth it. The problem with this station is that you are doing a conversion rather than generating new income so you are slowing down in the race. It is optimal on 1s when you can strike the Mother Lode and get 7-8 ore to use on later turns. You better make sure you have a Decoy if you do this because you will be punished otherwise.

Raiders Outpost
This is a quirky one. For now I will figure that taking from my opponent is one half extra value of the goods. I say one half because while taking from someone else slows them down, the stealing action itself is slowing me down in the race.
My booty will be 4 ore ($18) or 1 ATC ($8 round up)
General Raid = $8 ( ($2ship)*3 + $1 combo +1 combo )
Raiding is good, which is why many grumble about it. If you can pool 4 ore that is good. The problem with raiding is that you can be counter-raided, and in a 3-4 player game while some participate in a raiding tug-of-war, the other players get ahead in the race. The best time to raid is when you can perform the Cheeseburger Effect, that is, use whatever you gained from raiding on the same turn so they cannot be stolen back. This is why an opponent having 6 dice is so dangerous! They can use 3 to raid from you, and then use the other 3 to do something else (e.g. colony constructor with the ore they stole, OUCH!).


TERRITORIES

The ones that you can use every turn tend to be the better bargains, of course.

Lem Badlands
$1 for every die you dock at Solar Converter
Usually $1-2/turn

Heinlein Plains
Always get the 1s trade
Worth it if you strike the Mother Lode once or twice in the game and can keep it.

Pohl Foothills
$1 when you activate an ATC
Usually $1-2/turn

Van Vogt Mountains
$1-2 bonus for docking a die here
Usually $2/turn

Bradbury Plateau
$3 discount when you use Colony Constructor

Asimov Crater
$3 When you dock 2 dice at Colonist Hub
You are getting $2ship + $1combo
Use every turn and it can be a real profit maker.

Herbert Valley
$4 discount on ships.
Build many ships and terraform them for great value.

Burroughs Desert
$4 for the relic ship
This is the casino. You are paying $4 for the CHANCE to use that die on your next turn. Say goodbye to that $4 most of the time!


Okay, I hope that I haven't ruined anyone's enjoyment of the game! Even with this evaluation I really enjoy the game. I enjoy the luck of the rolls being the windows of opportunity opening.
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Piotr Burzykowski
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Re: The economics of Alien Frontiers
Solid gold, Sir.
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Tory Niemann
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Re: The economics of Alien Frontiers
Brilliant work, Brandon! I like the way you think.
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