Thursday, June 12, 2014

25: NVS Gameplays Review and Interview

About week ago, NVS of NVS Gameplays released 2 videos about Space Frontier. This was particularly appreciated because it was totally unsolicited. He contacted us and offered to do a review of our game because he thought it looked neat. Very flattering.

Speaking of flattering, both his Impressions Video (above) and Overview & Rules Video are overflowing with praise. Makes a game designer feel good. The reason I bring this up however is because I recently had a chance to talk with NVS about his experiences with the Space Frontier Print and Play and conducted a little Q&A session with him. It took him a bit to respond back because he's busy with other review projects, but he did respond all the same. As the person with perhaps the most experience using our Print-and-Play format, I really wanted to hear what he had to say; and he said this:

NVS Gameplays Interview:

Aaron -
What other board games have you played that were similar to Space Frontier?
How did Space Frontier differ from those games?

I'm trying to rack my brain for other games that I've played that are similar, but I just can't seem to come up with any. I know I've played games that utilize similar mechanics as Space Frontier, (I'm not the greatest at giving examples, but things like Exploring Tiles from Settlers of Catan, Building Up Your "Fleets" of Workers like Agricola, etc), though Space Frontier has gathered all these game mechanics into one place, and created an amazing game around it. While these other games may have stood out from the crowd with their 1 mechanic, Space Frontier has allowed you the freedom to use whichever mechanic for gaining Influence Points you'd like, so your game is played how you want to play it.

More Questions and answers after the break:

Aaron -
You played the 2 player (maybe 3 player) and 4 player version of Space Frontier. How did you find that the game differed with different amounts of players and which one would you say you preferred?

I found that there was much more interaction with other players the more that were involved in the game. There was also a lot more going on, even though you did wait for more players to finish before you got your turn, that the added wait did not feel too long, and in some cases, with what was going on it actually felt shorter because everything was happening so close to one another.
When I played the 2 player game, we each took off to our own sections of the board, and pretty well left each other alone. Whereas in the 4 player, there just wasn't space (lol, pun) to do so, especially so as more and more fleets were placed on the board. And too, with just 2 players, there was very little diversity in strategies that were used, while in the 4 player, you were forced to go outside your "comfort zone" and attack another player that was getting too big too quick, or take out a planet to get those quick extra Influence Points you needed to maintain your lead, or cut down someone else's.
As you can probably tell, I enjoyed the 4 player game much more than the 2 player, but that's not saying that I didn't enjoy the 2 player. I was still engaged for the length of the 2 player game. Usually when you add more players, there's more wait, and less to do, but Space Frontier didn't play that way for us, and adding all the interaction of more players on the board, more fleets, less freedom, "do or die" moments, etc, it cleanly came out on top as the more enjoyable version to play.

Did you have a favorite part about Space Frontier’s game rules or a specific element that was the most fun?

The best part of Space Frontier for me has to be the Fleets.
- Having the freedom to build my fleets how I want them, to build a formidable single fleet or a bunch of small fleets.
- Having 3 different ship types to make use of with their own advantages, and disadvantages.
- Being able to reorganize my fleets to best attack another fleet or planet, or to defend against another player, etc.
- Being able to use these fleets for exploration, or combat.
There was just so much freedom for how I wanted to use them or build them that I felt that my fleet would be unique to me. This was MY FLEET! I was their commander and I did with them as I saw fit (even if it was to send them to their demise against another player's fleet). I had to spend the time to get the resources to build them up, and organize them to the best advantage in the situation. It was my decisions, and my losses. I cared about my ships, and my fleet because it was left to me to decide their use and structure. It was entirely engaging for me, being allowed that control.

Aaron -
Did you dislike any of the mechanics or wish that they were different so they would be easier or more intuitive? Did you have any rules that you got wrong initially?

I wouldn't say that I disliked any mechanics in the game. In fact, they all felt really solid and well-thought-out/play tested. We didn't get any rules wrong (that we know of). The rulebook was very easy to understand. It was written well, so when you were sitting at the table with the game in front of you, it all made sense and flowed well together.
The only thing that may have been nice to see (and this could just be me being a little masochistic), is more interaction with the Pirates. We ranged from 1 run-in with them through an entire game, to another game where there were multiple run-ins. Seeing that evened out a little, or at least not seeing it bottom out to only 1 encounter. But that can just be the way of the dice for that game . . . no 1s rolled on exploration (as odd as that seems, lol). Also, the fact that when you scan a new tile and don't immediately move in with that ship, that the exploration roll no longer happens kind of made us sad about that part of exploring the new locations. We would like to see it happen whenever someone enters a newly found location tile, no matter how long it took them to get there.
These are so minor, though, as they didn't detract from the game, and I'm really nit-picking here for something, because the entire rest of the game was so good otherwise.

Aaron -
About how long did it take to print out and set-up/cut out the print-and-play version of the game? What was your experience with the print and play components?

Ha! That's a good question. It didn't take very long for the cards or the ships, but the market shard and the exploration tiles took quite a while, due to the multi-sided shape of them. All in all, I'd say between 3 to 5 hours. I took the easy way out, and simply just printed the tiles on heavier paper, no cardboard backing, etc. We were able to play the game very easily. There were none of the the issues that I've had with other print and plays, where you need to provide so many extra pieces that you have a hard time following the game because you have mashed together so many different tokens and markers of your own. The issue of dice color did come up, as I did not own blue, and green dice, but we made it work, and the more we play, the more we'll get used to the colors of dice we do have. The only real downside to the print and play is what you choose to do with the exploration tiles. Leaving mine as 100lb paper worked, but it would be much better with cardboard backing so they stay together better, and are far less easy to move accidentally. (though the cardboard backing would significantly increase the prep time due to the multi-sided tiles). All-in-all, the print and play worked well, and we were still able to enjoy the game quite a bit.


  1. Just tried to watch your videos and they are unavailable.

  2. Unfortunately NvSgameplays, for personals reasons he chose not to disclose, has taken down his Youtube channel as well as all of his videos, including his 2 on Space Frontier.