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Subject: Random Decisions – A Review rss

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Arrrrr'lex
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Geestland
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Hi! I find myself again compelled to write a review. This time I would like to talk about Alien Frontiers and its take up by our regular gaming group. We now have played 3 times, every time with 4 players. I was somewhat reluctant before the first game, as one of the most reported negative things about this game is its long down time, caused by the many things to consider.

Our group contains one heavy case of AP-prone player (he even had to pause for thought on his first turn in PitchCar!), but even so the play proceeded smoothly, once everybody knew, what the locations do. I myself enjoy the time between turns, as I like to view, what the other players do and also to plan ahead, what to do on my turn.

This of course is somewhat difficult, as you don’t know what you will roll. But you can make plans, what you want to achieve and what the possible roads to this goal are. When you finally roll your ships, you have a rough plan what to do, depending on the result.

Another point of criticism seems to be, that the randomness makes it hard to plan a strategy and takes away decisions. Our group likes randomness (we played a lot of King of Tokyo) and Alien Frontiers offers just about the right amount of it for us. The decisions are still there, I think. You have resources available, with which to “work”. So you have to decide how to use these resources (the rolled numbers). Also through the alien tech cards many ways to manipulate the rolls are offered. This can reduce the influence of randomness on your strategy. Even though I like the random element, I also like to go for the alien tech cards, which allow me to change a “bad” roll. Other players take other cards (the direct VP ones, or cards which offer you other ways of manipulating what is going on).

To each his own and this is what makes a good game. You are not forced to always do A, if not possible, do B, if not possible do C etc.

Final verdict of our group:


“It is a fun game. Let’s get the expansions at Essen.”
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Jade Youngblood
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It is a very good game. It teaches easily, sets up easily, and always produces a good deal of fun.
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J J
Australia
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Making plans and dealing with how they go awry is what makes the game for me, but also what I see people failing to understand most about AF. As you say, you can make long-term plans and work toward them, even if you can't guarantee that any given turn's planned actions will occur. I also love how you can change tack mid-game if you need to (someone else chose the same strategy as you and got there faster), or if you want to (a new and better strategy becomes obvious to you as the game progresses and changes) - I've come across few games where you can viably do this (you still have to work for it, but it is at least possible).

The expansion is well worth it - I considered the game brilliant to start with, and then we started playing with factions, and I ran out of superlatives with which to describe it
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Ocean Druen
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Buffalo Grove
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Alex40K wrote:
Another point of criticism seems to be, that the randomness makes it hard to plan a strategy and takes away decisions.

...

Even though I like the random element, I also like to go for the alien tech cards, which allow me to change a “bad” roll. Other players take other cards (the direct VP ones, or cards which offer you other ways of manipulating what is going on)


One of the first decisions that you need to make is how much randomness you want in your strategy. There are enough technology cards that help you control your randomness by changing dice rolls, using other people's dice, among other things. So, I would not call this a criticism unless you do not like to even have that decision - but myself I think that is what makes this game great (or do I want to spend precious actions to hedge my risk??)

Glad you liked the game, the expansions make only improve the experience too.
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