This is the most beautiful boardgame ever made. It fried my brain.

board games, outer space, physics, solar system

what a board game map usually looks like:

  • it has places on it.
  • sometimes a road, or a line, between those places showing paths you can take
  • it has barriers or hazards you have to go around

Except if you are Phil Ecklund, a boardgame map looks like this:

cropped map small

my photo doesn’t do it justice. This is seriously the most beautiful game board map I’ve ever seen.

it still has all the things a game board map should have – places,  lines between the places, barriers and hazards.  High Frontier is a game about developing technologies to travel to the solar system.   Figure out which thrusters or engines and robonaut your ship should have. Take a crew if you want. Water is the only currency. If you take enough resources you can build a factory wherever you end up, maybe a colony. But don’t make your ship too heavy, this game uses real physics and the heavier your ship is, the more fuel it needs to escape Earth’s gravity. And yes, there is a solar sail. All the techs in the game are real.  Makes you wonder why we’re not already using them.

Some more close up photos:

We used the sun's radiation area to store our extra water tokens

We used the sun’s radiation area to store our extra water tokens

I really don’t want to go to Mercury.

Everyone starts on Earth

Everyone starts on Earth

Everyone starts on Earth. Once your mission is ready to go, you can boost your components in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and then High Eccentric Orbit (HEO), and the Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). Each of these movements costs you burns of fuel, cuz we’re using real physics.  those “L” spots are Lagrange points, where it doesn’t cost you any fuel to change direction. you can just fly right through them and be on your way!

A great way to learn how the game works is getting a crew to the moon, and then getting your crew home alive.  You’ll learn how your different ship components work, and how much fuel it costs you to move around.

just follow the road signs!

just follow the road signs!

Moon, Schmoon! I wanted to go to Mars! to make my life easier, I followed the suggested path (but you don’t have to). Looks like it’ll take me at least three burns, there’s some aerobraking, and I’ll probably die. or that skull and cross bones could mean there are Martian pirates. hmmm.. or not.  aren’t signposts helpful?


but I made it there in one piece, see?  there was only a little death involved.  we also cannibalized my crew to make a factory. I sure hope my crew were androids. We later found out that you can’t do that. this is a good thing, I still feel bad for the not-real androids that I took apart to make a factory.  they didn’t even know they were androids until we got to Mars and I told them they weren’t coming home. :(   my melodrama isn’t part of the real game.

the gameboard is beautiful,  the mechanics are elegant, there’s not that many pieces to keep track of on the board. Now I just need that master’s degree in astrophysics so I can understand what the hell I’m doing.

also, Jupiter looks really scary:

jupiter flyby

Filed under: board games Tagged: board games, outer space, physics, solar system