Reviewed by: Wayne Tonjes
Frontiers™ by Asmodée editions is a new English release of a strategy game set in a not too distant future where a force of human liberators pursue liberty for the galaxy through rampant invasive tactics. As such, the game uses a slightly tongue in cheek approach to justify the classic aliens versus humanity story line while making it easy to assume either role.
This account from the product website:
“Frontiers is a strategy game in which you lead your units on a futuristic battlefield. The game mechanics are geared for simple fun: orbital bombardment, short-ranged missile fire, hosing down your opponents with uranium-enriched ammunition, head-on and manly assaults in the name of humanity's religious purity…”
offers some insight to the setting and options available. Both players have access to a variety of troops with slightly different capabilities, although orbital bombardment isn’t available. The playing pieces use small icons to describe their abilities and a set of numbers grouped on one side to highlight their basic statistics and unit costs. Each turn is played with a preparation phase to refresh action cards, an order phase of up to ten units, action phase for moving, attacking, using the action cards, or triggering special abilities, and reserve phase to move the remaining units and take limited effects. The rules are pretty straightforward and direct using a simple die plus modifier against a target value from the selected unit for its attack system. The most complex aspect is the ruler basis, requiring all motions and attacks to be measured using one of the play rulers.
The chief flaw with the game stems from a similar fluidity issue in the lack of specific scenarios or missions. Aside from minor objectives given in two of the five scenarios, the game devolves to simply purchasing two armies with a point buy then battling until one side wins. Unfortunately, the constructing such an army is not facilitated with a listing of the core forces available to the two sides in the main rules, so the purchasing stage does require reviewing the individual pieces for their capabilities and costs. While some of the supporting features are listed, like unit abilities, terrain effects, and salvage effects, the missing unit list does make it difficult to find where those features are best deployed. For that matter, one of the unit abilities doesn’t actually appear to be used, indicating a list of the units might have been useful to the designers as well as players.
Frontiers™ offers a very loose setup structure of strategic combat. While the open nature of the scenarios lends itself to great flexibility as every army and battle field will layout differently, it also doesn’t offer much distinction. Even the sides are relatively undistinguished despite clearly different cosmetic differences. The game is pretty well described with no real typos and only a few content issues as mentioned. The current game is solely designed for two players, although there is plenty of room to add additional sides with minor rule adaptations and a broader selection of pieces. The game, in fact, offers a basic structure upon which a number of expansions to add greater variety in army designs and mission styles. Whether or not the game will see that much support is a matter of conjecture, but take a look at this decent launching point.
For more details on Asmodée editions LLC and their new strategy game, Frontiers™, check them out at their website http://www.asmodee-us.com and at local game stores.
From: Asmodée editions LLC
Type of Game: Strategy Game
Game Design by: Yann and Clem
Graphic Design by: Yann, Clem, Thierry Masson, and the Asmodée Beauty Creation Team
Zirls Design by: Corentin
Corrected by: Alycia Simonnet
Translated by: Nathan Morse
Cover by: Stéphane Gantiez
Revision by: Eric Harlaux
Game Components Included: Rule Booklet, Die, Poster Game Board, 60 Cards, 7 Cardboard Pages of 147 Playing Pieces
Retail Price: $29.99 (US)
Number of Players: Two
Player Ages: Ten and older
Play Time: 45 Minutes
Item Number: FRON01US
Reviewed by: Wayne Tonjes
Added: June 1st 2008
Reviewer: Wayne Tonjes
Related Link: Frontiers Product Page for the Asmodée US Branch