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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