Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Sunday Miscellanea - Alien Frontiers (2010), Factions (2012), & Outer Belt (2014)

Alien Frontiers (2010) gets to our local table A LOT since we discovered it, even though that was some years after it was originally published.  We've been adding in the expansions from time to time as we've gotten to know the game better over the last year or so.  At times, we've even just played a quick game or two of the base game and that is still just as enjoyable.  I really can't say enough about the balance an replayability of this game.  We added in the Factions (2012) a couple/few games ago but this session report focuses on our most recent game in which we added the Outer Belt (2014).

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.
And the Factions expansion description is:
Alien Frontiers: Factions adds a number of items to the Alien Frontiers base game:
Ship and colony tokens for a fifth player. 
Factions (thus the name), with each faction providing its owner a special ability and new orbital facilities under his control. 
Agendas, which are hidden objectives that allow a player to earn bonus points at game's end or when the agenda is revealed in-game. 
New Alien Tech cards, such as the Lunar Tunneler, which will allow its owner to pay one fuel to receive an extra ore when using the Lunar Mine. This card's discard power will send all ships docked at the Lunar Mine to the Maintenance Bay, which can be useful when the Mine is clogged with high-value ships.
And the Outer Belt expansion description is:
The Outer Belt expansion to Alien Frontiers adds ships and colony tokens for an additional player and expands the playing board. This side-board expands the moon with a new territory, and introduces the nearby Asteroid Belt. Asteroid Counters move through the belt during the game, changing their docking requirements as they change their positions. Staking a claim to an Asteroid will give you resources, a derelict ship, or new alien devices. Outer Belt can accommodate 2 to 5 players (up to 6 players when combined with Alien Frontiers: Factions).

First off, a shout out again to how well this game packs up with the dedicated boxes and design that allows these expansions to work their way into the original box, which never seemed all that empty in the first place.  It's impressive how well all aspects of this game have been thought out.  Anyway, this session included the Outer Belt and it was Norm who took greatest and fastest advantage of that expanded set of resources.  I think we probably didn't keep him in check well enough as he started exploiting that and it showed again how every corner of the board needs to be watched lest someone find new and clever ways of getting their colonies swiftly into play.  Good stuff!

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