Tom M.
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I hope no one minds my posting this question here, but I wasn't sure the rules forum would be appropriate since it's PBF-related.

Why do the High Frontier PBF games seem to start the UN player with 5 VP? I can't find anything about starting VP in the rules. Is it intended to balance going last in turn order, or am I missing something?

Thanks to the players and mods; I really enjoyed reading these PBF games and it's giving me a better feel for the rules for my group's first foray into space.
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Pete Martyn
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cubthulhu wrote:
Why do the High Frontier PBF games seem to start the UN player with 5 VP? I can't find anything about starting VP in the rules. Is it intended to balance going last in turn order, or am I missing something?


It's because of the politics disc. It starts in the center, which is worth 5 VP to the UN should it end the game in that position.
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Tom M.
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the pete wrote:
It's because of the politics disc. It starts in the center, which is worth 5 VP to the UN should it end the game in that position.


Thank you! I should have checked the extended rules more closely. That was eating my head.
 
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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First, my general strategy:

I got into this game in the middle with a very good hand of cards. Honestly, if it weren't for
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, I'd have gotten pasted. He gave me a very good hand of tech to start with, and I stopped needing cards about the time I got into the game.

My first look said: Wow, NASA's in a good position, and I need to run some risks to catch up. I was always worried about the time pressure from NASA, and so I started running risks to try and jump ahead. It worked out for me. Had it not worked out, I'd have pancaked pretty badly.

My initial strategy was to try and spam factories on Mars. I was planning to hit Deimos, put a factory there to create refineries, and then set down on the Martian surface and create Nanobots. Then, it was going to be a piece of cake to move across the Martian surface, creating factories.

Then the UN and the PRC took the surface of Mars, and I had to revise my plans. Honestly, I'd have been better off turning Deimos into a V site and producing generators there. The flip side of the Photon Tether Rectenna is kinda awesome, and I'd have been better off if I'd done that. Live and learn. That was when I picked up the H2-O2 Fuel Cell and flipped it over to get the Microbial Fuel Cell.

One thing I learned from this game: A factory on Deimos is extremely powerful. Honestly, as soon as a player can get either the Flywheel Tractor or the Z-Pinch Torch in operation he should head for Deimos and take the ~1/3 chance of scoring. Not only is it an extremely convenient refueling point, but you can sell refuels at Deimos to other players for WT.

I had a couple of scares. The big one was when I thought I'd cut my own throat by letting the PRC gas up at Deimos. I'd claimed Hertha, and I was getting a freighter into place for the game-ending factory. I calculated and realized that he could jet all the way around the arc and claim-jump me before I could get the factory in place. I didn't breathe a word of it to anyone, and just sat there for a week hoping that HiveGod didn't see it.

One more thing I learned: Send a crew if you can! Crews aren't just useful for avoiding glitches (which is important in and of itself), but also prevent claim jumps, stop water theft, and add VP for colonies. This game revised my opinion of crews upward.
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Calavera Despierta
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My strategy:

Honestly, my primary strategy was to just have fun.

That isn't to say I wasn't trying to gain VP or play competitively since not doing so would have certainly ruined the game for others. It's just that, as the first PBF game on this public forum, I saw the game more as an exhibition or example for the wider community -- a document of the game's possibilities. It's my experience that when played by knowledgeable players who know enough about the value of the tech cards, and are familiar enough with the map that they don't experience rocket maneuver anxiety, the game is really special. SO, if I had a choice between a spectacularly showy move, and a more conservative move, I chose showy.

It was also important to me that the metagame be showcased - that there be lots of negotiation, trading, and collusion. This game does not come out of the box with arbitrary balancing mechanisms--instead it relies on the players to build that balance. So, for example, there was a lot of talk in the early game about whether my trade to NASA for the building of his uber-rocket ruined the game and handed the victory away, and indeed, we basically had a player quit because he felt like it was a forgone conclusion. I am amused that his predictions proved false - superior play and metagame management on the part of Shimizu clearly trumped the so-called "perfect rocket."

As to NASA's betrayal of our deal, and my obvious initial annoyance with it, for me it was a local metagame difference - we've been playing f2f games where such long-term deals are indeed binding, so it was my own foolish disregard of the rules at game start that said they weren't that ended up screwing me over, not NASA. In other words, I deserved what I got for not paying attention and just making an assumption, and in spite of initial annoyance, in the end was rather amused at the whole thing. He was absolutely right to do what he did, especially once he saw Shimizu gaining ground, and it's exactly that sort of nasty backstabbery that makes this game go from good to great.

My only strategic regret is that I made a second stab at that ridiculous aerobrake maneuver. The first attempt was genuinely epic, the second was just stubbornness on my part. "I can't possibly roll that poorly twice in a row!" I said to myself. "No one is that unlucky." A note to players of this game: In High Frontier, EVERYONE is that unlucky, when it comes to that infernal die. (Except your primary enemy [NASA]. That ass hole has all the luck in the world.)

However, in spite of that stupidity, my game would have still been different had not the PRC essentially nuked the free market action. It was certainly cool from an outside perspective to see it occur, and again, it certainly slowed down the advantage of Shimizu, the inevitable winner, but in the end Shimi STILL won, and I wonder if it didn't end up hurting the PRC as much as it hurt the rest of us.

Again, thanks for the game everyone. It was a blast. I would love to meet up at BGG con or some similar venue in the future and give a face-to-face game a shot.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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MScrivner wrote:
I am amused that his predictions proved false - superior play and metagame management on the part of Shimizu clearly trumped the so-called "perfect rocket."


Wow. That's a heckuva compliment. Thank you.

That makes me almost ashamed to admit that this was my first expanded game of High Frontier. I'm still a noob.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Okay, a question for Calavera:

Towards the end of the game, I bought a thrust from you to make my one-turn move from Eichsfeldia to Hertha. I'd like to know what was going through your mind when I wanted to buy a thrust from you, please?
 
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robbbbbb wrote:
Okay, a question for Calavera:

Towards the end of the game, I bought a thrust from you to make my one-turn move from Eichsfeldia to Hertha. I'd like to know what was going through your mind when I wanted to buy a thrust from you, please?


A couple of things.

At the end of the game, my strategy was to hold on to my VP gain on the politics track - there was no other way I could see in the turns I had left to gain quick VP any other way and a 5VP swing in someone else's favor (if the event came up on its own before the final election) would have completely swerved the game. So the election was something I could control, and I could control it by hoarding water. I MIGHT have gotten another claim off, but it would be a 1VP gain, for the expenditure of 3 or 4 WT, and 3 or 4 WT could cost me the next election. It was safer for me to water hoard and anything that could give me an extra water would ensure that final election going my way. As such, the deal was mutually beneficial, even if it made it easier for you to win.

However, I was acutely aware of the kingmaking I was doing as well. Frankly, had NASA not betrayed me, I probably would have rejected your deal, but since he had and was (tactically) complaining about his position, I found my normal compunctions about kingmaking evaporate to your advantage.
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Chris Tannhauser
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My goal for this game was the same as ESA's—to create an artifact of the game played through correctly and well to serve as a reference for new players or those hesitant about jumping in. HF is my favorite game & everyone who is interested should be playing it! The more resources like this, the better.

I also wanted to show how much fun this game can be. It isn't meant to be played in silence like multiplayer solitaire with stony mopey-faces. It's a boisterous affair of shifting alliances, spontaneous handshake deal-making & outrageous backstabbing. It's about wowing your fellow players with audacious and technically impressive missions. But most of all the game leaves huge amounts of space for emergent narrative. After 30+ games I've never seen any two alike—every moment of every game tells a unique story.

It's an apparatus that only truly comes alive with creativity—creative missions, creative metagame, creative storytelling.

As for how I played, I fell prey to my usual problem in HF: the kid-in-the-candy-store syndrome. I look at the psychedelic swirl of the map and I want to go everywhere, do everything, with every piece of tech. But the tech is limiting; every bit is useful for a specific mission profile and the more you collect the narrower your options become. I'll get started with stuff best suited for the asteroid belt, and think, fine, it's exofactories on dead rocks when suddenly the Orion shows up and I get all starry-eyed about landing crew on Mercury and then a ray gun robonaut shows up and I want to burn for Saturn and build a network of colonies there. And so I weave down the various alleys of possibility like a Naval Aviator drunkenly groping at prostitutes until the sun comes up and I realize I never got laid.

By bagging the sail out of the gate I had everyone's worst nightmare: Chinese crew that could be anywhere for 2 WT. And because I could decommission them at will, I could cycle that threat at a moment's notice. I wanted to spam-industrialize Mars, but then the Mirror Steamer happened... and I fell into the Zubrin trap.

So, go claim jump crazy, industrialize Mars, or commit to building the Zubrin? In the end I spent far too much time waffling between the three to make any one happen.

But I'm happy with how I played for two reasons:

I got to do a bunch of the PRC stuff—claim jump, extort, and push Anarchy to War. The ESA & I almost had a water-piracy concern going. (That would have been awesome.) And all that sweet, sweet GLORY—first crew anywhere, first crew to a science site, first crew to Mars.

Also, let's not forget the hilarity of Militarism!

I was one turn (or one burn) away from a tie. Just one more of either and I would have landed my factory package on Luna and industrialized with a colony for 10 points. That would have made it 22-22, with Shimizu pulling out the tie-breaker (5 WT to 2 WT).

This is what makes the game great. Even with all my random noodling I could have still pulled the tie. And with better water discipline, the win. (Or by seeing the one-turn claim jump Shimizu was worried about—damn my myopia!)

In the end a fantastic game with fantastic people—thanks to all of you for the great time—and if this kicks just one person over the edge and into the Deep Black we will have done our job.
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Robb Minneman
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When I cut off NASA at Hertha, I was actually most worried about the PRC getting back into the game. After all, he had so many options.

Had you managed to tie me at 22 VP, I'd have probably extended the game rather than risk getting caught short on WT in the end game. At that point, I was looking at 6 turns to industrialize Flora. And I think that would have put me beyond the reach of anyone else, and I don't think anyone else could have matched me at that point.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Lutetia, Phobos, and Khufu were all available. Each was within six burns and has 2 or 3 hydration.

Edit: And Davida and Vesta. I was worried you were going to take the 1/6 shot at Khufu. If you had, you'd have the lead, and it'd extend the game that much longer.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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tscook wrote:
Are you accounting for Hohmann pivots I'd have to burn?


Yes.
 
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Robb Minneman
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We were in the red zone at game end, right? That means that Comet Wilson-Harrington was also reachable.
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