The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Mars needs Women, and also robonautic ISRU

So I finally got a chance to experience High Frontier. (“Play” would be the typical word, but like many of Phil Eklund’s “games” I’m not sure it’s appropriate). We used some of the advanced rules (namely, all 6 component types, but not combat, slingshots, events, solar cycles or the extended map). We also used the fast start (each player has six patents) and, in general, didn’t bother making too many deliberate hosey maneuvers (like bidding up stuff we didn’t need). So the 2.5 to 3 hours were spent contstantly tearing apart my rocket to rebuild it, finally launching a martian mission (with a buggy robonaut, so I could take all three sites) and building the solar-lens energy generator technology and shipping it back to earth. Meanwhile, another player got Mercury and the other set up a factory on one of the larger asteroids. I built a lunar factory while the Venusian mission went belly up.

At that point, we pretty much called it. I probably needed 30 minutes to figure out my next mission, one player was out of it, and the other was going to use rockets with frikkin lasers to prospect about a zillion asteroids at once.

An interesting experience. Glad to have played. But High Frontier is more puzzle than game for my tastes. I think making it a game would mean a player (or two) sitting out for an hour or two after their risk fails.

Rating — Indifferent.


Written by taogaming

May 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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4 Responses

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  1. You nailed it – as usual.

  2. Well, all 6 component types plus quick start is not the ideal way to experience this game the first time out –it’s rather challenging for even experienced players to put together missions when you have to worry about generators and cooling. Plus the quick start doesn’t really work with all 6 component types in. Didn’t you read my tips urging you never, ever to jump into the expansion without playing the basic game first? 🙂 90% of the expanded game complexity is managing the new ship parts.

    (For the record, I’m not even sure the 3 extra component types makes for anything but a more random and gratuitously harder game. It definitely can be fun if you’re into the theme, but as a game it’s not clear it works).

    Best configuration from a game experience perspective is basic game + quick start + slingshots and regolith refueling + expanded map. Anything more is fun chrome which will probably detract from the actual game. I share your opinions on Eklund’s games in general, that in the past he’s tended towards chaotic flavor and not worried about the game too much. For me, though, both High Frontier and (to a lesser extent) Bios: Megafauna are pretty solid on game grounds too.

    Chris Farrell

    May 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

  3. Sorry, you might have liked the base game better. For me, I play it for that puzzle as you keep shifting parts around (and for the awesome theme).

    People can come back from ship explosions, especially in full expansion rules where damage will be more common to everyone, but it can be tricky.

    Ryan 2.0

    May 30, 2012 at 8:42 am

  4. If you said that it was interesting expirience, I’d like to try this game. Thanks.

    Cris from

    June 2, 2012 at 4:18 am

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