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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Sunday 28 April 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- New Frontiers

Game: New Frontiers

Publisher: Rio Grande

Designer: Tom Lehmann

Year: 2018

Race for the Galaxy probably deserves to be labelled as a modern classic board game. Its appeal is perhaps limited to those deep into the gaming hobby, but it's an older game that is known to most gamers. The remake into a dice game, with Roll for the Galaxy was very popular, and now, you can try the new board game version - New Frontiers.

After only recently playing Tom Lehmann's latest card game, Res Arcana, we took the chance to revisit the Race for the Galaxy universe with a number of enjoyable games of New Frontiers.

New Frontiers is an engine building game for 2-5 players in which players build galactic empires through trading goods for money and victory points. The core game mechanism is action selection, where each turn, the active player selects on of the seven available actions, but all players will typically get to do this action, in a slightly less powerful version than the lead player. The actions include producing resources, exploring new worlds, building developments, consuming resources and some more selfish actions to change the turn order or take some money or victory points. Each action can only be activated once per round, so turn order can be very valuable.

Although my overwhelming impression is that they've created a board game, simply by turning every component into punchboard instead of a simple card, I still have to give credit to some of the changes in New Frontiers. My favourite of these is the large 9-cost development tiles that give you end game scoring based on different in-game strategies. Focusing on these early on as you start to gather worlds of a specific type or to collect certain developments on your board is a great way to define your strategy. In a two player game, I've always been able to get the tiles I want, but in larger player count games, I'm sure some fights ensure over these tiles. It can often be pretty hard to even get to the 9 money requirement and I've certainly found that consume actions can be hard to come by in the very large bag of world tiles, meaning that money becomes a sticking point in the game. Another way to focus your strategy is by using the optional Galactic Goals, which often give you a tough choice between stockpiling or using resources.

My excitement to play New Frontiers seems to indicate that the mechanisms of Race for the Galaxy have really stood the test of time and still have the power to scratch my engine building itch. If nothing else I'm glad that New Frontiers existed to give my hotness seeking mind a good reason to revisit Race for the Galaxy, which I really did enjoy. What's ultimately most satisfying to me with either game is those clever moments, especially with two players where you can take an action that the other player is unable to follow, so that you get to sneak ahead. The engine building is still what it always was, with the added resource management of astronaut meeples and it's a clean system that doesn't feel in any way diluted in New Frontiers.

New Frontiers is without doubt a great game. I'm just not sure why it exists! Race for the Galaxy is a superbly elegant card game, which already comes in a box that's 6 times too large for its contents. New Frontiers doesn't offer me much more as an experience and it commandeers half a hole in my Kallax shelf - space that it simply doesn't warrant. It's the epitome of the phrase overproduced and I am not sure who wanted this game. Whilst many board games are bringing out compact dice and card versions, New Frontiers is flipping that trend on its head. I spent almost as much time punching this game as I did punching Gloomhaven!

If you like big flashy games and have shelf space as vast as space itself and have money to spend, then sure, buy New Frontiers and you might attract a bit of attention at your game group with a hot new game with some table presence. If you, like me, are struggling for space in your game collection then get Race for the Galaxy.

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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