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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