Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Space, the Final...:- New Frontiers

Game: New Frontiers

Publisher: Rio Grande

Designer: Thomas Lehmann

Year: 2018

New Frontiers is a 2-5 player action selection space game in which you seek to create the greatest space empire. It is a follow up to the classic 2007 game Race for the Galaxy, indeed if you are familiar with the original then you will instantly feel at home with New Frontiers action selection mechanics. During the game you will need to develop technologies, explore and colonise (or conquer) new planets and generate and trade resources in order to create a prosperous space empire.

On each players turn they will select one of the 7 available actions. While each action is unique all but one share a common trend: every player will get to do the action, but the player who selected it will get a bonus. For example the develop action lets everyone, in turn order, buy a development from the market for credits. However the player who picked the action not only gets first choice, but also a 1 credit reduction on the price of the development tile. Most of the actions work this way, Explore lets you draw planets from the bag, with the first player getting a second planet after everyone has picked. Settle lets you colonize an explored world, or take colonists to colonize with, the player who picked it gets a free colonist before the action etc.


Each player has a large board that contains thier starter planet along with all developments and planets the get during the game.
The game interconnects these actions incredibly elegantly. You explore to get new planets, settle to make them useful, produce to generate resources from your planets and then trade/consume to turn those resources into money/victory points. You might not need to do them all for a winning strategy, but having at least something to gain when your opponents select an action is certainly worthwhile. The rewarding part of the game comes from customizing your powers. While each player has a starter planet with some slight differences to the others. Future planets can be added which help with resource generation and/or new bonus abilities. You may settle on a planet for it to reduce the cost of settling on future planets, or to allow you to consume luxury goods for victory points for example. Developments function in much the same way, but are more freely available, so long as you get them before your opponents do! These bonuses stack so you can certainly find yourself in a position where you get a huge discount when you perform certain actions, regardless of who selected it.

There is no doubt that the core gameplay of New Frontiers is great. It's easy to pick up, and while the developments are a little overwhelming for your first game, the symbology is clear throughout. There is enough variability that each game is different, but with a set of core developments being in each game you can always rely on a few bonuses being available to help you start. You'll soon find you can complete a game in the advertised 45 minutes. Which is where I start to have an issue. New Frontiers is a big box with a similarly big price tag on it. And it is certainly very good. Good, but overproduced. There is little reason in my mind for the planets to be the huge cardboard discs that they are, the resource cubes are in no way required to be gigantic plastic crates. Don't get me wrong, everything looks and feels great as you play, but 45 minutes is just outside of me classing it as a filler game and usually those can be fit in my pocket. New Frontiers feels like a deluxe version of a game that sadly doesn't have a non-deluxe version available, though you could argue that Race for the Galaxy is that game...


Still once you look past the fact that it takes up almost as much shelf space as Gloomhaven, and one or two slightly unclear bits in the rules for 2 players, you can start to really enjoy the game. New Frontiers does an incredible combination of action selection and engine building to create a game that has a huge amount of player interaction. At times you'll be hoping that your opponent pick certain actions so that you can reap the reward, but still use your pick for something else. Overall New Frontiers is a great game and well worth playing should you have the opportunity.

8/10



New Frontiers was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £69.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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