High Frontier 4 All is a space exploration game at its core. Each turn you perform 1 action (called an operation) and 1 movement (provided that you have launched a rocket). Throughout the game, you use an engine-building mechanism to combine different components (called patent cards) into a rocket or sail. The spirit and hazards of exploration and prospecting are recreated by map icons. The map is entirely revealed but your particular designs of rockets, refineries, and robonauts determine the best places to attempt glory, prospecting, industrialization, and eventual colonization. The factory products you produce will guide your strategy onward in the game.
The mechanisms may be relatively simple, but the combinations of designs and explorations guarantee that no two games will be the same.
Victory points are primarily earned through the number of your ending map tokens, science value of your colonies, and your factory’s stock prices. The modules introduce other paths to victory, including politics, space colonies, starships, and special quests called futures.
High Frontier is a game of uncompromising hard science, but with an emphasis on narrative experiences. This has the effect of creating unscripted stories while playing against the harsh realities of space as much as against opponents. You will not find a more detailed map of the solar system anywhere, and the physics is real enough that you feel part of real stories and missions.
High Frontier 4 All will consist of a “Core Box” and several modules. In this Kickstarter, we are releasing the following modules (with relevant pledge levels listed):
- Core Box and Module 0 (CORE, TERAWATT, COLONIST, COMPLETE SPACE EXPLORER)
- Module 1 – Terawatt & Futures (TERAWATT, COMPLETE SPACE EXPLORER)
- Module 2 – Colonization (COLONIST, COMPLETE SPACE EXPLORER)
NOTE! In the art below, items with a circular arrow on them are not final art; they will look different in the final version. The component pictures will be updated during the kicktarter campaign.
We’ve created a video of game designers Phil Eklund and Jon Manker talk about science, facts, and design thoughts behind the High Frontier map.
See video where Justin, Brad, Jon and Phil discuss Module 0 a bit more in depth:
Play-through core game High Frontier 4 All by Heavy Cardboard
As space enterprise or nation in the near future, choose from game lengths from 48 to 84 years. Your goal is to compete with others over human and technological resources, while exploring the solar system for water and valuable sites for industrial exploitation. There are solitaire, cooperative, and combative variants. High Frontier’s iconic map is the most complete game representation of the solar system ever published and new useful and plausible routes are still being discovered by players.
The base gameplay mechanics are the same as in earlier versions, but all rules and all content has been overhauled. The most notable changes include:
- More than 10 designers have worked on tweaking and perfecting the living rules from High Frontier 3rd Edition. The modules and futures have been vastly expanded.
- Some cards have been tweaked and updated for balance, some new cards have been added, and all the cards are in a new easier to read format. There are new thrusters, reactors, generators, crews, and colonists.
- Phil Eklund, in concert with his colleagues at NASA and LPL, has updated the map for legibility and science, while retaining the iconic look and feel from earlier editions. New sites, not even discovered in the last edition, have been added, as well as the aerostats of Titan.
- Introductory games, tutorial playthroughs and scenarios have been added to ease the learning curve. In particular, a fun resource-collecting game easy enough for pre-teens introduces the essentials of movement and navigation.
- New Spectral Type H has been added, to represent the rare isotope helium-3, invaluable for clean fusion energy.
- Space Elevators have been added throughout the Solar System, which can be built using freighters if you have Module 1.
- In a science fiction variant, Supercritical Diamond Beings from the oceans of Uranus have been introduced allowing alternate starting points for players, or for alien versus human tensions.
The updated Core Box contains the equivalent to the previous edition’s basic and advanced rules. The rules have been greatly rewritten in order to make the game tighter and more accessible. Modules introducing additional elements are planned and in work.
Transition rules are included so that High Frontier works as an independent 4th stage in the Bios:Earth trilogy (Bios:Genesis, Bios:Megafauna and Bios:Origins) about the evolution of life on our planet. This includes having oceans on habitable Venus or Mars, as alternate springboards of conscious life.
High Frontier 4 All was awarded the “Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval” from Nyrath of Project Rho.