Fantasy Frontier - the first review

Posted by Jørgen S. Kjølsen on Wednesday, July 9. 2014 in Reviews

Last night it was Twosday (2nd Tuesday in the month), so I shared my issue of Fantasy Frontier with one of my game groups... This was also the first time that I played this game - so here is my first review of Fantasy Frontier:

Purpose of the game
Let's first start to take a look at the game and the concept:
The country that we live in is getting too crowded, so four groups are sent out to explore and settle new lands using airships. The four factions are different settled;
The Royal Vanguard (blue) who is sponsored by The King, which gives them access to The Marked, where they can trade resources: This means that the blue player can build Townships (settle the land) by using six random resources except of food.
The Skyflower (yellow) are basically a bunch of hippies who goes with the flow; this means that they can float one extra tile - with or without a pilot. This means that in each turn they can go from one to four tiles.
The Academy (green) are scholars, and this gives them a Research bonus; A players hand limit of Research cards is three, but the green player can hold four cards - so one extra Research card.
The Juggernaut (red) is armor plated and is therefore a well protected airship; this gives a +1 to the Defense.
Not only is the airships different on the paper; also the four airship tokens are differently shaped; This I think is a very nice feature!

When the game is going to begin, every player chooses his or her faction, and take the airship card, the airship token, three townships and the five worker pawns of their colours, two white cubes to count their (Combat) Victory Points. Then they draft one Research Card, which have to be a Map Card (the Research cards are divided into Map and Development cards) and two terrain tiles. The players then, by turn place their two terrain tiles and their airship on one of them.

The player do their turn in following phases:
Worker Placement - Place your five workers on the ship to do their work; this might be piloting, gathering, building, fighting, removing the ground below you, researching or scouting. You also have the opportunity to repair your ship if it is damaged during combat. In the Worker Placement phase you also gather resources from your townships if you have any.

Next phase is called Phase One This is symbolized on your Player Board with one dot on the action. The actions is Piloting, Attacking or Blowing the ground sky high! In this phase you also lay down all the Terrain Tiles you may have - this is a free action. If you have a worker on Pilot, you can now float 1-3 tiles, but you are not allowed to land on another players airship. As Captain of The Skyflower, you may float up to four spaces with a pilot assigned or one tile without. If you attack a player you can either attack an assignment (such as his/her Pilot ability or one of the five gathering assignments (called Disembark). The defense value is the amount of workers on the airship; so if a player have all five workers on board you need to roll 6 to make a hit, if the player have two workers on board, your combat die have to land on 3 or above. There are two types of attack; Standard attack where you roll the die for as many workers you have assigned to attack. Your other option is a Focused Attack, where you get a +1 Attack for each extra worker assigned to attack; So if you have two workers assigned you get +1 and if you have three workers you get +2; This means if the defender have a Defense value of 3 and you have an attack of +2 you will only need to roll 2 on the battle die to win the battle. This will only deal damage and give you one Combat Victory Point - but might be an easier way to attack a heavy guarded airship! The last option in Phase One was as I said to blow away the ground... You think that mountain is in the way? Move it! Three workers is needed to do this, and you can remove the tile below you and throw it back in the bag.

Phase Two is your gathering and building phase; You send down up to five workers to gather whatever the land below or adjacent to your airship can offer. If you have two of each non-eatable resource (Gold, Wood or Stone - or just six of any if you are Blue) you can assign four workers to build a Township on a Plain Tile (Yellow). This will give you 10 Victory Points and the option of gathering resources from any of the terrains around the township in the Worker Placement Phase. The resources you can get is Turkey legs (Plain and Forest), Fish (Water), Wood (Forest), Stone (Mountains) or Gold (Water or Mountains). On each tile (except Plain) you roll the resource die connected to the terrain to see what you will get - if you get anything, because it can also be "Ø" and you just didn't get anything on that try. Using a Turkey Leg can allow you to reroll one die per Leg you pay - this also counts in the Attack! Fish can be used to re-assign an already exhausted (used) worker to do any other job in the same phase or the later phase(s) that you are in. This can only be done in Phase One or Phase Two.

You are now in Phase Three symbolized with three dots on the Player Board. Here you can either research and thereby get one Research Card per assigned worker or Scout where you draw two tiles per assigned worker.
The Research cards can either be a Map card or a Development card. A Development card is some sort of enhancement that gives you an extra ability such as Long Ranged Canons (meaning now you can hit the enemy two tiles away from you and not only adjacent to you), Piracy (giving you the right to take a resource from the cargo bay you attack instead of wasting it as usually), Advanced Cartography (giving you extra Victory Points for each land pattern you recognize and score) or maybe just instantly fix up your ship instead of wasting a worker on this! To use a Development card, you reveal it infront of you.
A Map card gives you a pattern of tiles that you might be lucky to recognize on the board if build - if you recognize it all you have to do is fly to it and then reveal your card. Each card have different Victory Point value, depending on the amount of tiles in the pattern.

The winner of the game is the one who first gets 40 Combat Victory Points.



My thoughts
I took interest in the game after reading and hearing about it during it's Kickstarter campaign and after getting and trying the game, I have to admit that I am really impressed - I really enjoy this game a lot and I can say right away that I will be playing this game again.

But this is not all Skyflower and a happy ice cream! The combat system works and makes sense; the more workers that is one the ground, the less workers can handle the canons to defend the airship, giving you a good and fair way to calculate the defense value, but the fact that you get so few points for it, makes you rather want to spend time pattern recognizing and building your townships - at least this is my opinion!

But the game is fun, and I really like that the game is never the same, as the board is the entire table where you just lay down the tiles you pick up; In Settlers of Catan you can do the same, but still within the same space - here there are no boundaries.

In many ways this is like Settlers of Catan; Roll a die to gather resources, use the resources to build your towns to gain more Victory Points and to gather more resources. But you don't build the city between three tiles but on one tile (and one type only) and then you can gather from this tile - or the tiles around the city, so you also have to think strategy in your location as it might be better to build your city on a Plain with both Water, Mountains and Forest around it rather than one with only one or two of them around it.



I would recommend anyone who like Settlers of Catan to buy this - also I would recommend it to people who like adventure and exploring!
And... NO the "Fantasy" does not referrer to "High Fantasy" - there are no Elves or so in the game; The "Fantasy" is literally "Fantasy"; You are leaving your home to find out what is beyond of what you could see - you are now into what only existed in your fantasy - you are now at the Fantasy Frontier!
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First play: CarmaRace

Posted by Jørgen S. Kjølsen on Tuesday, July 8. 2014 in Reviews

I have had a board game session with one my groups, Get the Game Started (feel free to join us if you are near Copenhagen and ant to join us at one of our events). During this game event, I was playing Cluedo, then Drageborgen/Dungeon Quest - and then ended the night with a session of CarmaRace!

This is a review of CarmaRace after playing it for the very first time!

Purpose of the game
The game is as the name apply, a race game: In this game you are one of six nerds who have heard that the first visitor at a convention will get a special collectors item - so now there is a buzz around the block! You want to get there before your nerdy neighbors! The problem: The convention is across the country and none of you own a car so you have to hitchhike to the convention.

How to start the game
Each player choose one of the six characters; they have a special ability including adding or retracting speed to your or opponents transportation card or reroll dice. When all players chose their character you find out who starts. If you are the player on 5th or 6th spot you can start the game using Train (5th spot) or Aeroplane (6th spot) - if you will get one of those Transport cards!
Players not take cards up in their hands; the cards are divided into four piles: Transportation, Road Carma, Air Carma and Rail Carma (they might really have other names but this is what I choose to call them in this review!). The amount of cards is used by following algorithm; Amount of players + 2 - so if you play a 6 players game your hand limit is 8, if you play 2 players your hand limit is 4 - but the designers have been nice enough to write in the rulebook that you can make your own house rules, including changing the hand limit, but in this session we used a limit of eight cards, as we were six players active.

When it is your turn
When it is your turn you have to go through five phases: In the you start by taking cards up to your hand limit. Then your play your Transportation Card, which could be a car with a speed of 6. At the same time you can play a carma card; this has to be the right type; You can't play an Aero Carma card for a car or a Rail Carma card on a plane. This is the second phase and is called the Transportation Phase.
Now everyone - including yourself, by turn, play a Carma Card matching your mean of transportation; this can be Good (green), Bad (Red) or Neutral/Risky (Yellow); some of these cards have a fixed speed change, such as Plus 5 or Minus 3, on other cards you roll the dice (there are two red and two green dice) which then will tell you what to do; this can be different from Carma card to Carma card, so I wont go in details here. There are also some Carma cards which simply ends the Carma Phase and skips the next phase, called the Movement Phase! The Carma Phase ends either by an "Ender" card or by a a whole circle of "pass" in the Carma phase. In the first three rounds, you are not allowed to play any Bad Carma cards. Neutral or Good are still allowed!
If your Movement Phase is not skipped by a Carma card you now calculate your total movement; If you started with a speed of 6, your might now have more or less - or just the same. Let's say you put a +2 on yourself, your friend put a -3 on and another one placed a -2 on. You then added a +5 card and everyone passes. This will give a total speed of 8 and you can now move eight spaces ahead. If your speed is 0 or negative you can choose to walk instead; this will move you ONE step ahead (it is considered an EPIC WIN if you cross the finish line using a biocycle (speed 2) or walks!). Your then get out of the vehicle that you hitchhiked - meaning that you discard the Transportation Card and the Carma Cards in play. Public cars (Taxis and Busses) you can use again following the rules stated on the cards, and if you use a plane or a train you use this card untill you reach the next station/airfield.
Now it is time for the last phase; Here you can discard up to two of your cards to draw two new ones; it does not have to be the same type. Your turn is now over and your the next player start his or her turn by taking cards back to the hand limit.

The game goes on like this until one person reaches the convention hall to get that epic loot!

What can happen?
I will tell you what happened to some of us during our play;
I had gotten my way to an airstrip and played my "Carma Airline" Transportation card; This is a Speed 20 card; at the same time I played a Speed +1 card - and as no one had any bad Air Carma to stop me, I flew directly to the next airport and was ready.
Next to me was Kelli who also wanted to fly with her Carma Airlines" but did not have a positive carma card, meaning she had to stop right before the airstrip anyway. Risking of being hated and backstabbed the rest of the game, I played my Bad Carma card called "Turbulence"; not only did it set her back by eight spaces, but she also had to roll one red die which said how many cards she had to discard: Carma was against her and she lost her entire hand, giving her no chance to fight back; and no chance to put any bad carma on any other player untill her next turn where she should restock her hand.

Carma IS a bitch; The next time that I chose to fly, Kelli crashed my plane by hauling a bunch of birds in my turbines making my plane crash and set me back on the road, now having much longer than estimated before I reached the finish line.

I repayed her by letting her stuck in the middle of the game board, constantly setting her back using the most evil and devious cards that I had... But... as I said; this game has a lot of backstabbing included, so I will let you to guess what happened while I was sooooooo close to the finish line...

What can I say about this game?
I deffently recommend it! There is so much satisfaction in backstabbing your best friends by hurling bad, bad carma on them - but to be honest you also get a bit "upset" when it's pay back time! But this game is very fun!
If you have a chance of playing this with someone you know, I would recommend you to do this - and if you don't; BUY IT! If your local game store don't have it or can't get it home for you, you can always get it at the publisher, using CarmaRace's own website.

A bit of a warning thou; the Carma Phase can take a very long time, making the numbers on the side of the box a huge lie - especially with six players! According to users of BoardGameGeek.com, it is best with five players; I would say maybe four is the optimal.

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First thoughts: Intelligensspillet Investor

Posted by Jørgen S. Kjølsen on Sunday, July 6. 2014 in Boardgames

Just before I will go to my boardgame event at Café Ama'rdillo, I want to give you a "First Thoughts" about one of my older games: Intelligensspillet Investor.



About the game:
Intelligensspillet Investor is about real estate trade; In the game you start with DKK 50,000 which you use to pay for the house that you are randomly being given (by drawing a card with a the number face down) - meaning the deed and the mortgages of this. The value of the houses is between DKK 30,000 and DKK 150,000 in... 1960s values I would estimate (could be mid-late 1950s). You then pay either some of the house' value - or the whole value.
An example; House 1 cost 40,000; with your start money on 50,000 you can pay all 40,000 and thereby not having to pay mortgages for it anymore. Your investment is therefore secure but your money is now low and maybe you can not buy a new houses to invest and maybe earn more money. Option 2 is to pay Buyout of DKK 10,600 and later pay the mortgages in the house.



The game is moving on by spinning a roulette which is divided into six large green spaces (H) and six smaller; These are again divided into one black (?) and five red (S, T, D, S, T - seen clockwise from Black ?). If the ball lands on Green H, you get rent for your house. If we still use House 1 as example; DKK 240. If it goes to Black ? you have to pay the latest mortgages in the house (this be, for House 1, DKK 4,800, 6,400 or 8,000). If it lands on Red S, it means you have to pay Tax (Skat in Danish - hence the S); for house 1 it means you pay DKK 160. If you land on Red T your loan is due (Termin) to be payed, for House 1 it means you payout DKK 390 plus you need to pay the loans in the stated on the mortgage letters (3rd Priority; 320. 4th and 5th; 250). If you land on Red D you are lucky; that is miscellaneous or diverse (Diverse in Danish, too) - this means you pay miscellaneous fees for things like sewer, garbage, road, etc - DKK 20.
A player have to pay immediately! If not, then his house will be set at foreclosure and the player gets the money minus what he had to pay. The new owner also takes over the loans etc. By any luck the unlucky player still have money to buy a new house which he might be more lucky with. If not he either have to wait for another player to have a foreclosure or wait till the game is over and the money is counted up.



At the end of the game the bank buy the houses back and the player who owned it gets the original price (for House 1 it was 40,000) minus the loans still left in the house. The winner is of course the player with the most money.

There is a bit more into it than this, but let's keep it simple and get back to why I am writing this:

First thoughts
This game is clearly not for the younger players - or players easy bored with money cases or adult life. The game is said to be very realistic, but since a roulette can give you two times Dues before you get your Rent there is a bit more action going on in the game in the real life. But yes; it is clearly a grown-ups game, so if Grandpa is tired of playing Bridge or Wrist this might what he would bring to the other Old Boys at the Club.

When this is said, I think it could be an interesting game to try - and despite it is somewhere between 50 and 60 years old, I also think it can be quite educational; after all it is designed by a man who's everyday was about this as he was a real estate broker (= one the guys who always wins every time you buy or sell a house). It might not never be my favorite game.

The components are simple; The money is made of paper and have different value and colours; 5 (gray), 10 (yellow), 50 (pink), 100 (light green), 500 (red). It also have checks of 5,000 (blue), 10,000 (yellow - lighter than the 10-bill) and 15,000 (green).



The roulette is made of plastic - one of the reasons that I think 1960 instead of 1950, as they might have used Bakelite for the roulette in the '50s(?). As you see on the previous picture my roulette is unfortuantly broken during the years.

The house numbers and house cards are made of cardboard of good, solid quality - so far lasted at least 50 years!
The deeds and Priorities are made of some thin, glossy paper, also in a good quality.
The game contains no board.



This is a vintage game - and may or may not live up to modern standards. The game is (as far as I know) only made for the Danish marked, where it was issued by Generalagentur C.V. Bentzen, a printer which was located in Copenhagen. The game is designed by state authorized real estate broker Aage Eliasen, also from Copenhagen. No years is printed anywhere making my age estimate a mere guess. The instruction also have a print saying it is illegal to make reprints.
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First thoughts: CarmaRace

Posted by Jørgen S. Kjølsen on Wednesday, July 2. 2014 in Boardgames

The play of Fantasy Frontier is only planned - but not done, and already is the next game coming in to play at one of my groups. This time it is the game CarmaRace by Vince Luca.

First about the game
In CarmaRace you received the news that the convention you are going to will give an epic, collectors item - but only to the first to arrive! So what are you waiting for? Your neighbors also have heard this - so now the race is going on!



In true Rat Race style, you travel across the country as a hitchhiker on the roads, the rails or in the sky to get there first! In each turn you get into a new vehicle (there are a few exceptions as you wont be kicked out of the planes in mid-air and so). When you get into a new vehicle you instantly feel the karma - of the ride, from you - and from those backstabbing "friends" sitting with you, as they play their bad carma cards to slow you down from getting that amazing price!

The winner is obviously the first to come to the convention hall - and if you arrive on a bio-cycle or by foot, it is considered an "epic win"!

Components
The box seems amazing! I am really looking forward to open up the box to see what is inside.



Here you first find the rulebook; this seems quite good at first glance.
Under this, the board is laying. This seems rather flimsy; soft, bendy cardboard. I don't really like it, but maybe it will be good - the play with my groups will tell. The box also contains six player cards in hard cardboard with six wooden pawns in Purple, Black, Blue, White, Green and Yellow. Players are also equipped with four dice (2 red and 2 green) and four decks of cards; One deck of Vehicle Cards and three decks of Carma Cards - one for each type (Road, Rail and Air).



I haven't unwrapped the cards yet, but they seem in a good quality. The shrink wrapping have bend them a bit thou. The dice are sharp edged, but has many faults with excess paint - especially on the 1-side, but they are fully functional which is the important part.

All-in-all I find the components medium quality but the game it self seems to be good!

What to say...
Well, this looks like an interesting game - I like the idea of changing rides all the time (I am almost certain that I would be on the road most of the time!) - and that you and your friends can effect the rides by giving good or bad carma. It just smells like good friends backstabbing each other; What could be worse than having your best friend or mother stopping your drive right before the goal by having you to stop for a little old lady crossing the road?!



CarmaRace is designed by Vince Luca and illiustrations is done by Julie Labossière from Squish Image. It is published by Board to Death Games
The game was on Kickstarter and just reached it's goal. All the wonderful people who helped the game have gotten their name on the side of the inner box - including mine:
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First thoughts: Fantasy Frontier

Posted by Jørgen S. Kjølsen on Thursday, June 26. 2014 in Boardgames

A few days ago I went to pick up a game that I have supported, and now looking forward to play it with my group on Tuesday June 8th.

The game is Gantasy Frontier - an exploration game where you use your factions air ship to fly to a distant land to explore - and settle it!



The game uses many mechanics, including worker placement, tile drawing and pattern recognition. Each player is equipped with five workers (or crew members), three fortresses, one airship a player card, which shows the airships deck and is where you do your worker placement and your storage of resources, and two white counter cubes.


Each of the factions have different abilities; The blue player gets to build a fortress for six random resources, the red player gets +1 Defence, The green player can hold one extra map card and the yellow player can move one extra tile. Their airships are all different designed, both when it comes to the player board and also the token as well:


The game board is your entire table and you can build out the map as you want - you do not need to cluster the map but can build it with branches. How to build the map is by drawing tiles and placing them on the map by using the action for this. Placing tiles on the map is a free action that does not need to be taken care of by a worker but by the captain (you) itself. To draw the tiles from the bag to you "bank" require workers, to navigate (fly) require a worker/pilot. You can also assign three workers to build a fortress using your resources. A fortress is used to automatically try to gather resources.
Else you send your workers down on the tile you are to try to pick up resources; these are Turkey, Fish, Stone, Wood and Gold:

When you send your crew down to gather, you roll the die corresponding to the terrain type which shows what you get - if you get anything. On plains (yellow terrain) there is no rolling - here you just get turkey, but on the three other types of terrains, you can get wood or turkey in the forest (green terrain/die), stone or gold in the mountains (brown tile/die) and fish or gold in the water (blue).
There is also a black combat die which is used to attack an opponents airship or defend your own when attacked. To attack, it requires to man the guns with your workers, and damage is shown by placing a red cube. If you have too many red cubes you need to use you workers to repair your airship.

The white cube is used to count your Victory Points (VP) which you get in different ways, including battles, colonization and recognizing tile patters from your map-cards gotten from research. To score this recognition you fly to the area where it is and flip over your Research Card showing your recognized map. This scores you VPs which variate from the size of the pattern (up to seven).

The player who first gets 40 VP is the winner.

My first thoughts
I like the idea of this game; it will never be the same, since each time you can build a new map.
Ofcourse it resembles Settlers of Catan in many ways - but it is not as locked, because of the variating size and pattern of the map and players don't lock each other in as the roads in Settlers of Catan can do. The game may sound quite heavy with many actions and a lot of mechanics mixed together, but I also thought that about Edo by Queen Games which showed up to be a nice Medium game. This I expect is a Medium-Light game which can also be used to present players to the Euro-Game style.

So far I have not had time to play the game - also of my own wish; I am going to play it on July 8th together with my game group "Twosday Night is Games Night". After playing it with them I will write a proper review of the game, where I share my thoughts with you and also give it a score using the BGG scale of 1-10.
The components are made of wood. The player boards, tiles and the box is made of thick card board with a beautiful linen finish, so I have no doubt in the quality of this game, and I imagine it will also be a fun and interesting game.





The game is designed by Michael Coe with the art work by Naomi Robinson (Illustrator) and Darrell Louder (Graphic Design) and is published by Gamelyn Games owned by Michael Coe and his wife Brittany (who also is the Editior and one of the developers).
All rights to the material belongs to them and is copyrighted by Gamelyn Games, LLC 2013 with all rights reserved. No part of the product may be reproduced without specific permission.
The photos in this blog post belongs to me with all rights reserved. They may only be used elsewhere with the name and link of source.

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