High Frontier

I played “High Frontier”:http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/47055/high-frontier a while ago with Peter Haslehurst and friends, but real life got in the way of blogging. Hard-working Peter got his “thoughts”:http://nimrods.blogspot.com/2011/11/so-i-finally-got-to-play-high-frontier.html down quickly. The recent “Ludology interview with Phil Eklund”:http://ludology.libsyn.com/webpage/episode-22-games-vs-simulations was superb and inspired me to get my thoughts down.

After playing High Frontier, Peter’s initial reaction was that it was like the German games revolution never happened. Any game with eight pages of core rules, that still takes seven hours for four pretty hardcore gamers, including two hours of explanation, has hardly been influenced by Settlers of Catan.

Amazingly Phil Eklund said in Ludology that he has been assimilated by the German gaming revolution and pares down his designs from complicated drafts. Don’t believe a word of it – at least if you’re thinking of trying High Frontier. It is an amazing design – in the same way that a 20-minute guitar solo is amazing. Definitely an acquired taste – especially the the rule that lets the Chinese jettison their crews.

I’m not the only one who struggled:
* “Boardgames in Blighty”:http://rivcoach.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/not-a-review-of-high-frontier-by-sierra-madre-games-i-cant-play-this-game/
* “Games Night News”:http://gamesnightnews.blogspot.com/2011/11/is-this-game-or-is-it-my-science.html
* “I’ve Been Diced!”:http://ivebeendiced.blogspot.com/2011/02/ive-been-diced-episode-12-high-frontier.html

The last is a podcast describing the game in detail. There’s a moment when one guy is rendered speechless when he’s told they were playing the game with a few rules significantly wrong. Priceless.

All grumpiness aside, if you like simulations and space more than me, you will agree with “Michael Barnes”:http://www.gameshark.com/features/780/p_0/Cracked-LCD-176-High-Frontier-Review.htm and “Paul Evans”:http://www.pevans.co.uk/Reviews/HighFrontier.pdf.

Check out this Essen preview. Phil Eklund’s reaction, at the end, to HF being described as a sci-fi game is the highlight:

I *would* like to play again, but as a two-player game to save time and there’s hardly any player interaction anyway. I’d also like to take notes, as there’s too much for this newbie to keep in his head. If I can avoid running out of fuel at the far end of the solar system, there’s far more chance of me enjoying it.

  • Is it a Steve Howe guitar solo or Ritchie Blackmore?

    I’m more of a Neal Peart drum solo fan myself…

    I’d like to try High Frontier, myself, but like you would only want to do two player. And I’d prefer to play with someone who does not suffer Analysis Paralysis.

  • I think the “German game revolution” was bad for gaming. We need more inspired loons like Eklund designing interesting, complicated games. High Frontier is of war game complexity, but without the war theme, which is a much needed addition to the gaming cannon. Praise be to those that think outside the narrow confines of what the craven BGG hoardes desire.

  • I disagree that the ‘German Game Revolution’ was bad for gaming. It brought in some fresh ideas and revitalised game design.

    Unfortunately, like all revolutions, the new breed soon became the old guard and it was not long before we got stuck in a new rut.

    I’d like to see more constant innovation in boardgame design and less “me too” products.
    High frontier does not appear to be breaking any new ground, though.

  • Much as I respect Steerpike, I strongly disagree with his assertion that High Frontier breaks new ground. It breaks pretty much nothing *except* new ground.

  • High Frontier has problems, but lack of innovation is not one of them. It’s a game I *want* to like, it’s just too uncompromising.

    @Andy – I agree we need to break away from BGG group-think and I admire Eklund very much, but the simplicity and elegance of the German revolution was breath of fresh air. It’s just a shame it’d been highjacked by monstrosities like Caylus.

    @Steerpike and Peter – I need to organise a games day and get you both over. You’d really get on.

  • To be fair I have not tried High Frontier, as of yet, and therefore I am only judging it one hearsay.

    If it truly breaks new ground then I am in 🙂

    I agree wholeheartedly that the BGG Borg needs challenging.

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