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Phil Eklund's High Frontier 3rd Edition
Phil Eklund's High Frontier 3rd Edition
2,244 backers pledged $180,942 to help bring this project to life.

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Not too long from now, manufacturing techniques conducted exclusively in space will allow the creation of incredible new materials, which will enable amazing advancements and improvements to the human condition. Some people, and the corporations that they control, will recognize the tremendous profits to be made from these materials, as will governments. These entities will race to set up manufacturing facilities in space, particularly on asteroids within our solar system.

To enable this process, space-based enterprises must accumulate water in orbiting fuel depots that can be used as rocket propellant. Water in low Earth orbit is the key to success for these enterprises. At first, water must be taken from Earth, at tremendously high cost. But in time, water can and will also be manufactured on Earth’s moon, Mars, and other bodies within the solar system, at a much lower cost. But to do this, you must first discover how; and the first to do so will gain the profitable high-ground in the coming exo-globalization!

High Frontier is the third edition of Phil Eklund’s game of exploration and exploitation of our solar system, and is considered to be the most realistic simulation of rocket travel ever published.

The first edition of High Frontier was originally titled Rocket Flight, AKA Lords of the High Frontier in 1999. It was a desk-top produced game with great potential. A community of fans coalesced around the game, and eventually a second edition was produced in 2010, redubbed simply, High Frontier. The second edition was a vast improvement over the first, having had 10 more years of development and play from the game’s dedicated community (located here). It also went from desk-top status to actual board game in a box with good quality components.

Now, One Small Step intends to bring you the definitive version of this game. Five additional years of honing, shaping, play-testing, and development has brought High Frontier to a point where the designer as well as the players believe the system has stabilized, with minimum likelihood of additional major rules changes or alterations to the game.

The 2nd edition of High Frontier’s basic game was expanded upon by the Colonization expansion, and many feel that Colonization is what really completes the game experience. We are including both the basic High Frontier AND Colonization in the base funding goal for this effort.

Additionally, there will be no Kickstarter Stretch Goals designed to improve component quality. We intend to produce this game, regardless of funding level accomplished, to the highest possible material standards. This will include mounted playing surfaces, high GSM thickness paper, and the best possible wooden and plastic materials available.

Inside the box of the base game you will find:

1 36" x 24" (91cm x 61cm) matte-finish solar system map mounted on high-quality board
120 poker-sized, color playing cards on casino quality stock
1 48-page rule book
45 plastic rockets
35 wooden cubes
35 wooden colony cylinders
105 plastic disks
5 color player mats mounted on high-quality board
1 solar system chart mounted on high-quality board
1 deluxe, oversized game box (to hold all possible things High Frontier)

We claim that High Frontier is the best, most accurately realistic exploration of the solar system-style games in existence. But don’t take our word for it. Check out these reviews of the 2nd edition at Board Game Geek:

Review 1
Review 2
Review 3

There are many others there, some glowing, some not. But here’s the thing: the rules in 3rd edition have been painstakingly gone over by both the designer and the community of players to make them as clear to new players as possible.

Want to see a run-through of the game? There are several out there, but here are a few community favorites:

Rahdo Runs Through High Frontier
The Calandale Sequence

Still not convinced? What if we told you that High Frontier has the Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval?

The game is complex, it is realistic, but with 3rd edition, it is also accessible!

Please note that:

Players represent space-faring factions of Earth. These factions bid for patents in the form of space technology cards and boost them into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). These are then assembled into rockets and their cargoes. Once fueled with water tanks (WTs), these rockets fly to promising industrial and science sites (planets, asteroids, etc.). If prospecting succeeds, a claim is made. A claim can be upgraded to a factory to produce useful new technologies. By extracting water from a site, a rocket can refuel (WTs are used both as rocket propellant and as currency). The winner is determined by the number of his off-world claims and factories, the resource value of his industrialized sites, and his exploration achievements (ventures and glories).

The full-sized, full-color, mounted map shows the spaces (i.e. the orbits in the Solar System where a rocket can “halt”), and the routes between the spaces. Spaces include Sites (planets, moons and asteroids that can be landed on), Intersections (the intersection between two routes), Burns (Lagrange Points and Lander points), Aerobrake Routes (routes that have special coasting rules) and Heliocentric Zones (these divide the solar system into concentric zones to mark the decreasing solar energy as you move further away from the sun.)

In the basic game, there are three types of patent cards, Thruster (used to move Rocket Stacks), Robonaut (used to prospect, refuel, and build factories), and Refinery (used to build factories). The white side of a patent card shows a product built on Earth; the black side shows an improved product built in space.

Each player starts with a Playmat, used to store his cards and his WTs (water tanks stored in a WT depot in your home orbit, used for money and fueling). It contains a Fuel Strip and Acceleration Track (used to keep track of the fuel and net thrust of his Rocket Stack). The Solar System Charts contain the five Exploitation Tracks.

Clear blue disks simulate 40-ton water tanks (WTs) stored in your Home Orbit and are used both as “money” and as rocket fuel. Each clear blue disk represents 1 WT. Your WTs are stored on your playmat, and unowned WTs are stored in a central pool. Clear blue disks are also used to mark busted sites where prospecting has failed and to track game information. They are also used to track rocket dry mass and net thrust.

On your turn, you may move your spacecraft, perform operations, and perform free actions. In the Basic Game, you are allowed two spacecraft (your rocket and your freighter), one operation, and any number of free actions. The advanced game will make additional spacecraft and operations available. Moves and operations can be taken in any order. For instance, you may move your rocket, take an operation, and then move your freighter. When your turn is complete, play passes to the next player in clockwise order. Free Actions include cargo transfers, home orbit refueling, Liquidate Fuel, and so forth. 

The 3rd edition is the definitive edition of High Frontier including:
* Rewritten rules to simplify play, eliminate exceptions and exploits and clarify ambiguity
* A more physically accurate fuel strip replaces the rocket diagram
* Landing burns better model landing on and taking off from large sites
* 36 new double-sided cards including 21 new patent cards, glories, ventures and radical side crew factions
* Redesign and rebalancing of the 84 existing cards from the Basic and Colonization games
* Separate colony counters, new and rebalanced futures for deep, competitive play experiences
* Expanded and corrected maps based on the latest information and images from the Dawn and New Horizons probes

A detailed change list is available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iusKNU_rMX96FWQ5K18nOAaZMWMaXOueav4UpwisZlY/edit

Game Design: Phil Eklund 
Production: Jon Compton 
Graphics: Antonio Pinar
Illustrations: Jos Cabrera 
Rules: Phil Eklund, P-M Agapow, Kyrill Melai, Rus Belikov, Andy Graham, Mike Dommett New Card & Map
Research: Dr. Noah Vale, Dave Bostwick, Pawel Garycki 
Rules Editor: Brandon Waite 
Playtesters: Derek Drake, Jeff & Eric Chamberlain, Andrew Doull, Francisco Colmenares, Xavier del Valle Muñoz.

 We have the following stretch goals set up for this project:

This stretch goal include solitaire rules and four scenarios for the basic game as well as seven advanced game multi-player scenarios. The four solitaire basic game scenarios are Werner's Star, Hermes Fall, Mars Flotilla, CEO. The advanced game scenarios are Space Race (2 to 5 players), Alien Invasion (3 players), Quick 2-Player, The Red Giant, The Grand Tour, Quest for Glory, and an alternate Colonization start scenario.

The strategy guide is a detailed discussion of the finer points of playing High Frontier. This booklet includes tips on mission planning, basic game strategies, advanced games strategies, and a discussion on frequently overlooked rules. A detailed game FAQ is also included.

The exomigration modules increase the scope and detail of the political side of the game by making space politics a dynamic system that can evolve over time independently of the players. This allows politics to be used in solitaire game while making political choices in the multi-player game more interesting. Also included are the exploration modules for those who wish a more exploratory approach. All ten modules are independent of each other.

Includes a set of interesting, scientifically detailed simulation additions to include such things as Open Cycle Generators, which increases thrust, while decreasing heat; Torch Ships and Sails which more accurately models these thruster types, and several other detailed scientific possibilities.

“The Drake Equation, used to determine how many interstellar civilizations exist, indicates the determining factor in whether there are large or small numbers of civilizations in the universe is the civilization lifetime, or in other words, the ability of technological civilizations to avoid self-destruction.”

This module includes detailed rules that let you journey beyond our own solar system and see what's out there. The Interstellar module will include an additional separate mounted map, produced at the same level of quality as the base components. This goal also includes strategy suggestions.

This booklet include detailed descriptions of all of the Patent Cards included in the game. It's long, it's detailed, and it's exhaustive. It's also awesome!

Risks and challenges

The game is published by Ares Magazine in association with Sierra Madre Games. The folks involved with these two companies have published more than 50 game titles over the past 20 years. We have vast experience in designing and publishing board games, and have a plethora of tools to use to avoid and mitigate production challenges.

We will be using subcontractors for some of our art composition, plastic component production, and printing. We need to manage each of these groups and ensure that each delivers their respective items on time and at a quality that meets our standards. If we manage these sub-projects well, we will deliver a quality product.

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Funding period

- (30 days)