$10.00

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User Rating Comment Status
Jordi Cairol
Australia
Brisbane
QLD
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10
Sep 2009*
Owned
Ove Hillep
Estonia
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10
May 2012
Owned
Sean McQ
United States
Mechanicsburg
Pennsylvania
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I don't want happiness by halves, nor is half of sorrow what I want. Yet there's a pillow I would share, where gently pressed against a cheek like a helpless star, a falling star, a ring glimmers on the finger of a hand.
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10
Aug 2011
Owned
Andrew Graham
Scotland
Airdrie
Lanarkshire
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10
Nov 2012
Started using play test rules. But nicer with actual game. Very good support from the game designer.
2010-11-08
Owned
Preordered
Want To Play
David Ells
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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10
Nov 2010
This is Phil Eklund's masterpiece, some 30 years in the making. It also marks the arrival of Sierra Madre Games into the professional level of game components, which began with an earlier & equally groundbreaking design, Origins. There is a lot of detail & interplay of game mechanics, participation between players, strategy and overall a lot of replayability. The game is supported at Boardgamegeek.com and also at the Yahoo Groups listed above.

I am a big fan of SMG's Origins, and it took me a little while to become thoroughly acquainted with it, but this one is now my favorite of the 2. Bravo, Phil!
2010-11-07
Owned
Preordered
Want To Play
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
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GET OUT
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10
Dec 2011
tl;dr — After 30 plays, this has become my most favorite game ever. It is a Masterpiece, a Magnum Opus and there is nothing quite like it. If you are even remotely into space science/exploration then this was built for you. Just take your time, ease into it and don't be in a hurry to swallow the whole shebang in one go.

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Right now... just seriously geeking out on the science. Shot a rover at Mars and managed to get it there, survived the aerobraking maneuver only to lose it in a sandstorm.

Intrigued and really looking forward to a proper play.

UPDATE: First play. Mind blown.

UP-UPDATE: Rockets to a solid 9 after two more back-to-back plays, one of which saw the Japanese lose salarynauts over Venus, the ESA looping the screams of their brave aströnautes (breaking up on final approach to Comet Encke) in swanky discotheques, and the UN burning in three full crews over Mars, one after the other, grinding the same doomed mission over and over again. Twenty-four cosmonauts later, Mars was his.

Some thoughts:

It's not nearly as complicated or difficult as the rules would have you believe.
This is the game that dares you to figure out how to play. While the living rules and other attempts at simplified rules, summaries, walk-throughs & etc. all help a great deal, none of them are as clear or straightforward as they could or should be. Once you do figure out how to play, the game's a lot simpler than it appears. That's not to say it's not complex, but the complexity arises from the potential bushiness of the decision tree growing in the sandbox.

The obtuse rule book and the effort required to sift through the spray of Internet resources to figure out just how to play the damn thing keep it from a truly-deserved 10.

The base game is more than enough for a good while.
It's a pretty enormous sandbox—you've got the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars (Phobos & Deimos), and a spray of asteroids & comets, with a deep selection of tech to get you Out There... aaand no real direction.* It's simultaneously terrifying and liberating. You can run any mission you can imagine, any way you can finagle it. While it's daunting trying to figure out just what to do, it's exhilarating when a really complicated orbital ballet comes together—solar sail a crew module out from Earth to rendezvous with a freighter carrying a high-tech thruster built by robots at your factory on a distant rock, ditch the sail and burn for the outpost where you stashed some prospecting robonauts, pick them up, refuel on an icy asteroid and wing to the outer edges of the solar system.

Ultimately, the unfortunate effort required to figure it all out is more than worth it. There's no board game experience quite like it and I find myself daydreaming of the most harebrained and unlikely missions...

Can't wait to play more!

UP-UP-UPDATE: More sandbox sim than game. There is no "rubber-banding" mechanism to help those who fall behind, and whiffing on a single risky maneuver (aerobraking or hazard) can cost you the win.** This isn't a knock against the game at all—it's a simulation with a lesson to teach, and it teaches it well: space exploration & exploitation is expensive, difficult and dangerous. It's only for those with resolve and daring. A frontier indeed. When sitting down to roll through this it's best to adjust the mindset appropriately—it's an experience, a sim, a place to experiment and fail. Attempting to game it or play it in a "gamey" fashion will result in a crippled, unsatisfying half-experience.

Surprisingly, playtime has hovered around two hours, even for our five-player games!

UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: It's really, really hard to watch Taikonauts loot your billion-dollar landing site—using your flag to erase your footprints and your commemorative plaque as a hammer. It's the kind of vandalism that hardens hearts and launches nukes...

I think this just might be my favorite game.

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Everything you need to know is right here:

Shame & Terror at 225 Million Klicks

Portraits of the Stupid-Brave: Drunk in Mission Control

CUBES OF DOOM

"My God, it's full of stars!" and Other Things Screamed Out the Bunghole

WHY THIS GAME IS HOPELESSLY BROKEN

High Frontier Haiku

1

(Includes High Frontier Colonization.)


*The pre-fab "signpost" missions are a good start, but some favor different tech over others which puts you in the Catch-22 position of not knowing good from bad without several plays. Being a sandbox experience, failure is half the fun, right?

**You can avoid taking those risks by not going there or invoking the FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION RULE (spending 4 WT to skip the die roll)... but then your game will develop more slowly than those who accept the risk and dive in head-first.

NOTE: This copy signed by Phil at Essen. *swoon*
2014-07-28
Owned
Kyle W.
United States
Up Nort' Der
Wisconsin
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Now appearing in Jurassic World! (Not really)
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How Me Grimlock get geekgold?
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10
Oct 2012
Wow. High Frontier is so cool on so many levels, but make no mistake:
This game wants to hurt you. It wants to kill you. It is brutal, unforgiving, and will not hesitate to break you if you give it the chance.

Do not expect to fully understand this game the first time you play it, and if you think you do, chances are pretty good you're doing something wrong.

However, if you're willing to put up with a few games where you fail miserably and you take the time to really learn how to play this, you'll be rewarded with one of the most incredible gaming experiences ever, and one that just keeps on getting better and better the more you play it.

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Within you get a great auction game (with inherently unbalanced items), you get exploration and expansion, pickup & deliver, and even a little bit of chance, all wrapped up in an awesome sciencey shell. This is rocket science.

There's a crapload of stuff in the rules to this game, but once you get the core rules down it's a lot less complicated than it at first appears. It can take several plays just to get a feel for how everything ties together, and then several more to really get good at it.

There is some math involved but it's pretty basic stuff (just some minor addition and subtraction).

If you're just starting out, don't even look at the expansion until you played the "basic" game at least three or four times. The expanded game components are an absolute must-have, but the complexity they add to rocket construction and movement will only cause confusion when you're still trying to figure out the basics. The events and political track add even more layers of complexity that can quickly overwhelm if you're not up to speed on everything else first. Colonization is another step beyond, and you have to work your way up to it. Most people will drown if they try jumping straight into this deep end.



Also, if you're even slightly interested in this game, make sure to get the giant poster map. 36x24 is almost an exact match for the original board plus the expansion, but if you've got the table space for it, bigger is better.
2013-11-20
Owned
Want To Play
MARCO SERRANO GALAN
Spain
MADRID
MADRID
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10
May 2011
Owned
Piotr Modzelewski
Poland
Warszawa
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10
Jan 2013
Based on two plays - one 2-player, one solo (Hermes Fall scenario): a deep game, that keeps you coming back and thinking how you could have done things differently.

I've tried the expanded game from start, got some rules wrong, but hell - it was fun! I imagine that the basic game would be too light for my taste, much of the fun is from struggling to build a workable rocket design - I believe a puzzle of 6 pieces (using the expansion) is much more satisfying than the 3 piece basic game.

Be warned, this is not a game for everyone. Although the designer went a long way to hide the actual science behind the scene you still have to do some basic maths and basic physics knowledge helps understand why thing are the way they are. Also, the "space road-map" is so complicated that you can spend quite a lot of time trying to find an optimal route between two spaces.
Definitely not for AP susceptible people.
2011-10-20
Owned
Martin
Sweden
Solna
Stockholm
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10
Mar 2013
Owned
Want To Play
Chapel
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Exit...pursued by a bear.
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10
Jul 2012

My best of 2010!
2012-07-14
Owned
Chad Marlett
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
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Wherever You Go, There You Are
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With no certain future, and no purpose other than to prevail
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10
Mar 2012
Outstanding.

The thought that went into this game to make it realistic and playable is simply amazing. The rules are not complex, but the strategy is massively deep. The challenge is not figuring out how to play, it is figuring out how to play well.

The mission planning required to be succesful will certainly make this a game that isn't for everyone, and really not even for the majority of people. You can not just build a rocket and start moving around without a plan - this will lead to nothing but frustration.

If real space exploration interests you, and you grew up interested in what NASA was up to, this game is the one you have been waiting for.

When learning this game, I would recommend at least 2 plays with the basic rules and the quick start. When you are learning, you won't understand the benefit of one patent versus another, so you might as well start with some random ones and experiment.

My house rule (advanced game): players start with 6WT, high roller picks a faction and starts a bid. winner of the bid gets the faction (money to bank). If the player that chose the faction didn't win the bid, they pick another and so on until everyone has a faction. Once you have a faction, you can no longer bid.

includes expansion and poster map

note: these comments only cover the Legacy (non-Colonization) game.
2015-01-21
Owned
Doug Hawes
United States
Ocoee
Florida
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10
Jan 2014
Owned
Want To Play
我爱桌面游戏像老鼠爱大米
Spain
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10
Jul 2013
A Carl Sagan le habría encantado jugarlo. Y a mí hacerlo con él.
2013-11-03
Owned
Pieter Bruring
Netherlands
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10
Feb 2011
With my (aero)space engineering background I can only say: most perfect game ever!!!

There are many strategies possible and navigating the map results in an understanding of the challenges of space travel.

This game is a masterpiece!
2011-02-17
Owned
Michael Johann
United States
Los Angeles
California
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10
Apr 2011
Owned
Chris Farrell
United States
Cupertino
California
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10
Jan 2011
Couple comments now that I've played this quite a bit (although not with the expansion yet):

- My rating is for the "quickstart" game, where you deal one technology from each pile to each player. This should have been standard. There is no reason to start with 4 WT and no technology - it just takes too long to get going. If you've been playing that way, your gaming experience will be vastly improved with this rule.
- The comments about how difficult this game is are, in my opinion, overblown. The core systems are actually quite reasonable. Is putting together missions hard? Sure. But Brass, Antiquity, and Age of Steam are all tricky too and High Frontier isn't *that* much harder. High Frontier isn't gratuitously punishing, just pay attention, understand ISRU and how to land and take off, and realize your first game is a learning game. It's not crazy long - 2-2.5 hr - as long as players stay focussed and keep moving at a reasonable clip. Some experience will bring it down probably to under 2.
- 5 players is probably one too many. 3 or 4 is fine.
- OK, the auction isn't great. The play advice in the rulebooks suggests you should buy and sell technology to get WTs, but it's just wrong - if all you want to do is get WTs, just take one for your operation. It's a lot faster and the results are slightly better. Don't auction unless you want the technology, think you can sell it to someone else for 2+, or need to cycle the cards (to get at something to use as a factory product most likely). The game works better if you don't try to game the auctions as an income stream.
- Yes, you can get hosed by the dice. But this is not AMF or Origins - the risk are reasonable, given space exploration is hazardous, and you have plenty of options for mitigating them. High Frontier isn't a game you'd ever play for money or blood, but good players win.
- I really object to the folks who say that High Frontier has put the simulation ahead of the game. This is certainly generally true of Sierra Madre's games, but High Frontier is different. This is a real game in which the complexities of space exploration have been distilled down to a few highly playable game systems. It's a challenging game, it's an authentic game, it's a game based on a lot of science (and also plenty of speculation), but it's also a well-designed, playable game.
- And I'll say it again, don't play with the expansion until you've got a firm handle on the base game - 3 or 4 plays. The base game is a plenty rich game on its own. If you try to throw in the expansion before you've mastered the basics, the game will overwhelm you most likely and not be fun.
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This has really grown on me. I was biased towards liking it, but it has nonetheless exceeded expectations. It's not without some flaws; the early game is too slow, and too much time is spent taking a water to get your stuff into orbit. But the design of the map is totally brilliant, I think they've done a good job of designing the thrusters, robonauts, and refineries to be quite different but pretty well balanced, and the game is very challenging in an interesting and evocative way. It seems to be of sensible length end just at the right time. By far the best Sierra Madre game I've played.

Still: Use the fast setup (where everyone gets some stuff out of the gate). Do NOT attempt the expanded game unless ALL players have several (probably 3+) games under their belt. Seriously, don't do it. And realize that it's still a Sierra Madre game, which means it's richly thematic and scientifically edgy, but you can play a highly skillful game and come in last because you blew some critical die rolls, couldn't get the right technology, or whatever. The thing is, in High Frontier, there is always stuff to do and missions to plan. You may be stuck passing to get water, but even if you are, you are usually doing so towards achievable goals that are in your sights, which was not always the case in Origins or American Megafauna, where you could sometimes be screwed and without good options.

Last thing: Orange's special power is pretty lame in the basic game. I think the game plays best with 3 or 4 anyway, so I'd recommend just cutting them out (the PRC, while aggravating, makes for a more interesting playing experience and more interesting game).
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Chris' top tip: I strongly recommend playing the "quick-start" version in which everyone gets one card from each deck for starters. Otherwise I think the early game develops too slowly for new players. I also recommend, in the strongest possible terms, not playing the Expanded game until you have several games of the "basic" game under your belt. The split is a touch awkward - I wish the "slingshot" rules were in the basic game, without which the solar sails seem pretty hard to use - but the basic game is hard enough. High Frontier has a theory about how space will be developed economically, and you need to understand that theory as well as the problems with gravity before you can move on to the much more complex expanded game.
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I enjoyed this, but be warned it's a classic Sierra Madre Game: very flavorful, well-researched, evocative, and yet it often feels like you don't really have that much control, you're just going with the flow of events. I think it's going to take probably two plays for most people to feel like they're exerting sufficient control for a game of this length, and for the pacing to feel right. After just the one play, it feels a lot more stable and interesting than Origins did (and I even liked Origins, sort of), and I have hopes for this one. But, Sierra Madre games are always a bit dicey. In particular, the availability and flow of patents in this one feels pretty random, and I hope it works.

I highly recommend the basic game, and additionally the short version, for your first play.

Also like most SMG games, it's fun just to contemplate and look at all the thought that went into it. The map layout and movement system in particular is incredibly clever. Sure, it seems insanely unlikely you'd ever go to Venus in an actual game for any reason. But just to look at it and see the care that went into modeling something you'll never use, and how you *might* do it and what technology would be required is cool.
2011-03-06
Owned
Calavera Soñando
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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10
Nov 2013
Received Xmas 2010
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6: Rating is tentative after first play. Rules are incredibly arcane and obtuse, and even with a walkthrough, we still felt lost and frustrated. I feel like I have a good command of the science behind the game (I almost even majored in Astronomy) and so I would agree it does do a good job capturing the thematic science-related reasons behind elements of the game design. However, that doesn't make the experience necessarily any more playable. Hopefully this one will improve after future plays.

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8: Ratings revised to an 8 after second play with expansion. Something about how it all works finally clicked and I really enjoyed myself. It turns out, the game is really not all that complex once you figure out how it all fits together, and the strategies are not that deep, but the risk factor for successful endeavors is incredibly high - I almost feel like I am playing the game system more than the other players here, since the margin of success in the early game is so low that there is sometimes literally a nailbiting finish toward the end. Can't wait to play it again.

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9: Another ratings bump to 9. Each game of this gets better and better. In my most recent game, I got unlucky and had my rockets burn up in the Martian atmosphere TWICE, and I still had a blast playing. Cannot wait to get it to the table again.

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9.9: Ratings bump to 9.9 after my ninth play. This is, without a doubt, one of the most intense thematic narrative experiences ever, and at the same time, now that I understand the rules, know the cards inside and out, and have found some of the hidden map shortcuts and secret tricks, it's also one of the most competitive board games I own. With players who know the game well, every turn matters, every action counts, and the game escalates to a crescendo in the final round. I always suggest, I always want to play, and I can't see that changing in the foreseeable future. Like my other all-time favorite game (Diplomacy) the real tragedy of it is, it's not a game for casual gamers or stupid people, which means the pool of people I will get to play it with is very tiny. Still, it is an absolute glory of a game.

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A final note: with the Colonization expansion, and the right people at the table, there is no other game I'd rather play.

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2013-10-25
Owned
Eric Schiedler
United States
Austin
Texas
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10
Oct 2010
The game says what it says it wants to accomplish; and then goes out and does it brilliantly. Most games don't have anything to say or even a point. Those that do often fall short. This is an excellent game from a small publisher.
2010-10-26
Owned
James Hemsley
United States
Palatine
Illinois
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10
Aug 2011
Owned
Marc Figueras

Barcelona
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10
May 2012
A must for all science lovers. How can you resist playing with Lagrange points and calculating movement in terms of energy and specific impulse instead of distance? As usual with Phil Eklund's games, it is more an "experience game" blended with a detailed simulation than a true competitive game. Some players don't like this kind of game, I love them!
2012-05-24
Owned
Joe Norris
United States
Dublin
Ohio
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There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night, and if you go no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone. Ripple in still water, when there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow.
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To seek the sacred river Alph, to walk the caves of ice, to break my fast on honey dew and drink the milk of paradise... I had heard the whispered tales of immortality, the deepest mystery, from an ancient book I took a clue.
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10
Nov 2013
Owned
Jeff Chamberlain
United States
Tracy
California
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10
Dec 2010
Owned
John McKendrick
United Kingdom
Glasgow
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10
Nov 2010
Owned
Peet Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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10
Nov 2010
The game is not so much complex as involved. The rules aren't complicated... but they take some work to wrap your head around.
2010-11-30
Owned
Want To Play

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