Game Buzz: New Frontiers

Whistling tunes we hid in the dunes by the seaside.  Whistling tunes we’re kissing baboons in the jungle.  It’s a knockout.  If looks could kill, they probably will in

image by Big user Tom Lehmann

New Frontiers is a game from Rio Grande Games and designer Thomas Lehmann that is billed as the Race for the Galaxy board game.  It’s a 2-5 player game, and like the original, it’s about expanding your space empire.  From the blurb at the beginning of the rule book, it seems like it’s set after the events of the game Jump Drive, which came out in 2017.

The game comes with 8 empire mats, 60 goods cubes, 60 colonist pieces, 2 development mats, 56 development tiles, 60 world tiles, 7 action tiles, 8 goal tiles, 5 stockpile mats, 1 setup summary/colonists mat, 1 world summary tile, 40 VP chips, 56 credit chips, 1 priority track, 10 player discs, and a bag.  Each player gets an empire mat, dealt randomly.  These are double-sided, so players can all use the side recommended in the rules, or a side of their choice.  Players also get 3 credits (4 for the last player, or 4 for the last two players with 4-5 players) and a colonist for their home colony.  If your home colony has a halo, it will give you a good.

images by BGG user Tom Lehmann

The game also has worlds and developments as you see above (the world is the round one, the developments are arrow shaped).  The worlds all go in the bag, while the developments are set out on the development mat – 8 large developments and stacks of the small developments (1-3).  These are also double-sided, and you can either put them all on the recommended side or flip a coin to decide which side is up.  Additionally, you’ll have available some VP chips (12 per player) and colonists (12 per player).  There are seven action tiles that will be placed out, and play order will be randomized on the priority track.

image by BGG user Tom Lehmann

New Frontiers plays over the course of approximately 12-15 rounds.  In each round, players will each select an action from the unused action tiles, and all players will get to do said action (with the chooser getting a bonus).  Once all players have chosen and performed the actions, the actions are reset (with Produce getting an extra credit if it was unchosen).  The actions are as follows:

RETREAT INTO ISOLATION: Nothing much happens here.  The person who chose it gets two credits.

DEVELOP: Each player buys one development, with the person who chose the action getting a one credit discount.  These developments occupy a space on your empire mat, and have special powers that change some of the rules for you.

EXPLORE: Draw seven worlds from the bag and pick one.  It is placed on its unsettled side in the appropriate area of your empire mat.  After the first player has picked, he passes the rest and the next player gets to pick.  The person who chose the role will get to choose one more world after everyone else has gotten one.

SETTLE: The person who chose the role gains one colonist.  Then everyone either gains two colonists or settles one of their worlds.  Each world needs a number of colonists, as well as either credits or military strength to settle.  As in set up, if it has a halo, it is a windfall world and you gain a good immediately.  The world is now a settled colony.

PRODUCE: Every player produces a good on all production colonies that do not already have goods, i.e. those with filled in circles.  The chooser of this action also gets any credits that have built up and a single good for a windfall world they have (as long as it doesn’t have a good).

TRADE, CONSUME: The chooser gets a point.  Then everyone may sell a good for 1-4 credits before using any consume powers they have to gain benefits.  Some of these consume powers eat up goods, others do not.  Consumption powers can be used in any order.

SEND DIPLOMATIC ENVOYS: Gain a point and move to the first position on the priority track, meaning you’ll go first next round.

The game ends after the round where someone has filled up more than 10 spaces on their empire mat spaces with developments OR someone has more than 7 settle colonies OR there are fewer than 5 colonists left OR the pool of VP chips has emptied.  At this point, players add up their scores, and the high score wins.

image by BGG user Photodump

The history of Race for the Galaxy is interesting to me.  It started out as a card game version of the 2002 board game Puerto Rico.  Then Andreas Seyfarth, designer of Puerto Rico, used some of Lehmann’s ideas to come up with San Juan in 2004.  Lehmann tinkered some more, changed the theme, and released RFTG in 2007.  After several expansions (some more successful than others) and a dice version (Roll for the Galaxy), we now have a Race for the Galaxy board game which truly does seem like Puerto Rico in space.

I enjoy Race for the Galaxy, but haven’t gotten to play any more than the solo version that came with The Gathering Storm expansion in quite a while.  But a lot of the ideas look like they’re still around, and it looks like they’ve worked on the symbols problem that some people like to bring up every time they talk about the game with more text.  I think it looks pretty fun, and look forward to trying it out some time.

Thanks for reading!

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