Saturday, September 12, 2015

Systems Saturday - Alien Frontiers (2010)

Not long ago, my buddy John picked up a copy of Alien Frontiers (2010).  It just goes to show how many cool games are available that I don't recall having heard of this one before even though it fits squarely among the kinds of games and themes I like.  We played it a few weeks ago and then again last week and I've found the game challenging enough to want to play it at least a few more times in the near future (after which I'll probably want to see it played from time to time).  While I wouldn't call it a must-play game, I think it could be and I'll know better after we integrate all of the expansions.

The description from Board Game Geek is as follows:
Do you have what it takes to be a deep space colonist? An alien frontier awaits the brave and daring! This new planet will be harsh, but if you have the skills to manage your resources, build a fleet, research alien life, and settle colonies, the world can be yours.
Alien Frontiers is a game of resource management and planetary development for two to four players. During the game you will utilize orbital facilities and alien technology to build colony domes in strategic locations to control the newly discovered world.
The game board shows the planet, its moon, the stations in orbit around the planet, and the solar system’s star. The dice you are given at the start of the game represent the space ships in your fleet. You will assign these ships to the orbital facilities in order to earn resources, expand your fleet, and colonize the planet.
As the game progresses, you will place your colony tokens on the planet to represent the amount of control you have over each territory. Those territories exert influence over specific orbital facilities and, if you control a territory, you are able to utilize that sway to your advantage.
The planet was once the home of an alien race and they left behind a wondrous artifact in orbit. Using your fleet to explore the artifact, you will discover amazing alien technologies that you can use to advance your cause.
Winning the game will require careful consideration as you assign your fleet, integrate the alien technology and territory influences into your expansion plans, and block your opponents from building colonies of their own. Do you have what it takes to conquer an alien frontier?
Roll and place your dice to gain advantages over your opponent and block them out of useful areas of the board. Use Alien Tech cards to manipulate your dice rolls and territory bonuses to break the rules. Steal resources, overtake territories, and do whatever it takes to get your colonies on the map first! Don't dream it'll be easy, though, because the other players will be trying to do the same thing.

We have tried the game with the expanded technologies, though don't ask me which ones.  The few I snagged when I could were ones I knew from the base game and the others seemed intriguing but weren't available to me when the associated orbital station was open to me.  I'm not sure which of the many packs John owns but I believe he has most of them.  The factions haven't been tried yet but he has them and I am keen to see them added into play.  I'll blog about this game again after another play or two.  The game is a tight race even if the dice aren't doing the players any favors which I think speaks to the balance preventing runaway victories.  It may also be that we aren't playing cut throat enough just yet.  With the folks I play with and against, that usually comes after we've had a go or two at the game with most of the expansions in place unless the game is specifically designed to be played no other way.  So far, there seems to be a lot of room on the frontier and competition tends to manifest as the occasional tech card thefts and only minor raiding.

A look under the hood of various Games, Rules and Systems.
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