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High Frontier Play-by-Email Game ONE

This the living Play-by-Mail session report of Game #1 (Advanced Rules).


- Sam : SHIMIZU (orange)
- Francisco : ESA (green)
- Luca : NASA (white)
- John : UN (purple)
- Brian : PRC (red) 

Session Report:

Year 2053 (Turn 1)

Shimizu Coporation begins the year bidding on research for a new TUNGSTEN RESISTOJET ROBONAUT, part of the same research yielded a new generator: the PHOTON TETHER RECTENNA. Although the ESA, NASA and PRC entered bidding as well, the SHIMIZU corporation offer couldn't be beat (5 WT).

Then the European Space Agency focus on new thruster designs for a rocket. the PONDEROMOTIVE VASIMIR. Such a thruster requires a pulse generator. So the ESA also found a project for the BRAYTON TURBINE. ESA wins the auction despite some competition by SHIMIZU, bidding 2 WT.

The American Space Agency begins the year bidding on research for a new MET STREAMER ROBONAUT, part of the same research yielded a new generator: the FLYWHEEL COMPULSATOR. NASA wins the auction with an offer of 2 WT.

UN now opens an auction for PHOTON HELIOGYRO THRUSTER. No support card is requested. Although ESA enter bidding as well, the UN offer wins (4 WT).

PRC boosts its Crew card to LEO and pays 1 WT. NASA gets 1 WT as well.

A summary of some cards auctioned during Turn 1

Year 2054 (Turn 2)

Shimizu Corporation puts ISRU STABILIZER REFINER and the STIRLING ENGINE GENERATOR up for auction. NASA wins the auction bidding 3 WT.

The European Space Agency starts a new auction for research into electric generators and robotic technology. The FLYWHEEL TRACTOR was a decent low mass exploration buggy and the CASCADE PHOTOVOLTAIC electric generator had a high mass but had the benefit of not requiring additional supports to be fully functional. ESA wins the auction for 1 WT.

NASA boosts the MET STREAMER ROBONAUT to the Low Earth Orbit. No WT is expended (cost 1 WT is absorbed by NASA bonus).

UN boosts the PHOTON HELIOGYRO THRUSTER and its CREW to LEO, 1 WT is paid and NASA gets 1 WT bonus as well.

PRC, using only the Crew Module, has fueled up and left LEO. Passing through the Van Allen belt too fast for radiation to be an issue, two burns has put them just past the Sol-Earth Lagrange point into a Hohman point.
Also, the MASS DRIVER THRUSTER is up for auction. PRC wins the auction bidding 1 WT.

A summary of some cards auctioned during Turn 2

Year 2055 (Turn 3)

Shimizu Corporation boosts to LEO the TUNGSTEN RESISTOJET ROBONAUT and the PHOTON TETHER RECTENNA (2 WT cost, 1 WT bonus to NASA).

ESA sells the blueprints for the CASCADE PHOTOVOLTAIC Generator for 3 WT.

NASA sells the patent for FLYWHEEL COMPULSATOR Generator for 3 WT.

UN loads 1 WT and moves its rocket to HEO. Income operation for UN, +1 WT.

PRC moved its rocket and performs a Free Market operation selling H2-O2 FUEL CELL Generator. 3 WT added to PRC.

Summary of rockets positions at the end of Turn 3

A summary of some cards auctioned during Turn 4

Year 2056 (Turn 4)

Shimizu Corporation moves its rocket to L2 Sol-Earth Lagrange point and puts up three cards for auction: IN-CORE THERMIONIC GENERATOR, PENNING TRAP REACTOR and SALT-COOLED REFLUG TUBE RADIATOR. The auction is won by PRC with a bid of 4 WT.

ESA opens a new auction for the following cards: RANKINE MHD GENERATOR, PROJECT ORION GENERATOR
and TI/K HEAT PIPE RADIATOR. This time the auction is won by ESA with a bid of 3 WT, despite the attempt by Shimizu.

NASA boosts the STIRLING ENGINE Generator to LEO (3 WT cost, deducted 1 for NASA bonus) and assembles the rocket with the Generator and the MET STREAMER Robonaut that works also as Thruster (dry mass 4).

UN photon-sail rocket moves safely through the radiation belt from HEO to Earth-Luna Lagrange point. Then UN moves the rocket to Sol-Luna Lagrange point. Then open an auction for the following cards: HALL EFFECT THRUSTER and AMTEC THERMOELECTRIC GENERATOR. UN win the auction bidding 1 WT.

PRC sells the MASS DRIVER Thruster for 3 WT and lands on Mars in the Hellas Basin, luckily surviving an aerobrake, an atmospheric entry, and a dust storm!

Summary of rockets positions at the end of Turn 4

Year 2057 (Turn 5)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation lands on Deimos, then fails a Prospecting operation.


NASA sails its rocket to Mars. The rocket exits safely the Earth radiation belt and continues its route through the GEO, the Sol-Earth Lagrange point and the Mars flyby (no event result is rolled). Then it safely aerobrakes to the Mars HEO. After a long hesitation, NASA staff decides to attempt an aerobrake landing on Mars surface, it's a success! The rocket lands on the Arsia Mons Caves. A Prospect operation is immediately performed, automatic success. UN receives 1 WT after prospection of Mars by NASA.

Rocket of UN continues on its route approaching the Hohmann point near Khufu. Then UN get Income as Operation.

Summary of rockets positions at the end of Turn 5

PRC initiates an auction for the DE LAVAL NOZZLE THRUSTER and LYMAN ALPHA TRAP REACTOR. Shimizu wins the auction bidding 4 WT.

A summary of some cards auctioned during Turn 5

Year 2058 (Turn 6)

Shimizu Corporation performs no movement with its rocket, currently located in Deimos. Then Shimizu opens an auction for the NEUTRAL BEAM ROBONAUT and the CASCADE PHOTOVOLTAIC GENERATOR. The auction is won by PRC with a bid of 2 WT.

ESA sells the RANKING MHD GENERATOR for 3 WT, no move.

NASA puts the following cards up to auction: EXPLODING GAS DYNAMIC LASER ROBONAUT, PEBBLE BED
and SS/NAK PUMPED LOOP RADIATOR. After some negotiation, a deal is arranged where by Shimizu, that wins the auction with a bid of 4 WT.
As a result of the negotiation, Shimizu traded the reactor and Radiator, with ESA, and received Project Orion Reactor and the TI/K Heatpipe radiator. Also as a result of the negotiation, ESA earned privileges to refuel at future bases of Shimizu, and NASA was given the option to refuel a ship at a Shimizu base.

UN move the rocket to just beside Hathor, and put the BUBBLE MEMBRANE RADIATOR up for auction. The Radiator is won by UN with a bid of 1 WT. During the rocket movement, a PAD EXPLOSION event is rolled. Thus players must decommission the heaviest card in LEO.

PRC performs no movement. Then PRC prospects and claims Mars surface. UN receives 1 WT as well.

A summary of some cards auctioned during Turn 6

Year 2059 (Turn 7)

Shimizu Corporation performs no movement and converts its rocket into a base (outpost) in Deimos. Then the TUNGSTEN RESISTOJET ROBONAUT is decommissioned and sold for 3 WT.

ESA boosts all cards to Orbit, cost 5 WT. Nasa gains 1 WT as well.

NASA puts the MET STREAMER ROBONAUT and the STIRLING ENGINE GENERATOR in the Outpost in Mars, then decommissions the empty rocked and boosts the NASA CREW to LEO as Operation (cost 1 WT, less 1 WT for NASA bonus, final cost 0 WT)

UN sail picked up speed as the ship moved into the inner solar system, enabling it to move through two burns to the
near Earth asteroid Mjolinir, continuing its search for someplace wet enough to prospect. Then puts the MIRROR STREAMER THRUSTER up to auction. Despite the attempts by NASA and ESA, the auction is won by UN with a 1 WT bid.

PRC moves its rocket burning 2 fuel for afterburner, thus adding 1 to acceleration. This brings the weight down to +1 acceleration for a final acceleration of 11. So, with no fuel for liftoff or landing needed, the rocket makes a suborbital hop to Martian North Pole! Then an automatic success for prospecting operation: North Pole is claimed by PRC. UN gains 1 WT.

Year 2060 (Turn 8)

Shimizu Corporation puts the CVD MOLDING REFINERY up to auction. The blueprints are sold to Shimizu with a bid of 1 WT.

ESA loads 2 WT into its rocket. Thrust is calculated as follows: base of 3, 1 step of fuel is spent to afterburn and generate 1 therm of cooling in order to operate safely, wet mass modifier -1, ESA bonus +1, reactor bonus +2 = 6. The rocket sails for Lutetia and lands safely. Then a successful prospect operation with the buggy. 1 WT is credited to UN.

NASA boosts the ISRU SABATIER REFINERY to LEO (3 WT cost - 1 for NASA = 2 WT), then the rocket is immediately assembled (dry mass 3+1 = 4) and I loaded with 4 WT, so the acceleration is 9-1 = 8.

UN move toward Phaethon. (Due to a computational error, they will miss the original rendezvous.) During the rocket movement, a triangle burn triggers a budget cut, that forces Shimizu to discard the TI/K Radiator and PRC to discard the Cascade Photovoltaic Generator.
Then UN auctionis a MAGMA ELECTROLYSYS REFINERY and a FLYWHEEL COMPULSATOR GENERATOR. The auction is won by UN with a bid of 1 WT.

PRC decommissions the rocket and creates an outpost on Mars surface with its CREW Card. Then performs a Boost operation, lifting the IN-CORE THERMIONIC GENERATOR and the PENNING TRAP REACTOR to LEO (2 WT cost). 1 WT is added to NASA for launch fees.

A summary of some cards auctioned during Turn 8

Year 2061 (Turn 9)

Shimizu Corporation puts the SOLAR PUMPED MHD EXCIMER LASER ROBONAUT and the ETHER CHARGED DUST RADIATOR up to auction. The blueprints are sold to Shimizu for 0 WT.

A summary of cards auctioned during Turn 9

ESA performs an Income Operation (+1 WT).

NASA sails its rocket to Mars stopping in the Hohmann point nearby the Sol-Earth Lagrange point (12 fuel point expended, radiation check is successful), then NASA performs an Income Operation (+1 WT).

UN moves to HEO space nearby Phaethon, but is essentially marking time. Then conducts an Income Operation (+1 WT).

PRC boosts the NEUTRAL BEAN ROBONAUT to LEO (2 WT cost, 1 WT is credited to NASA for launch fees).

Year 2062 (Turn 10)

Shimizu Corporation performs no movement. Then the Solar Pump Robonaut is sold on open market for 3 WT.

ESA performs a Refuel operation: 3 WT are loaded into the rocket in Lutetia.

NASA moves its rocket by 3 steps on the current route up to the Hohman point that brings to the Mars flyby. Then NASA performs an Income operation.

UN makes a small move, waiting for its destination to arrive. A pad explosion occurs, but nobody is hit. Then the UN rocket fortunately is safe stranded in the asteroid belt. UN finally performs an Income Operation: +3 WT.

PRC creates an Outpost in LEO. The rocket is in Mars. The crew is getting her warmed up and taking on fuel (ISRU Operation).

Year 2063 (Turn 11)

Shimizu Corporation puts the CAT FUSION ROBONAUT, the MINI MAG RF TRAP REACTOR and the MICRORUBE ARRAY RADIATOR up to auction. The blueprints are purchased by NASA with a bid of 2 WT. Then, the Japanese outpost is decommissioned.

A summary of cards auctioned during Turn 11

ESA blasts off from Lutetia and heads for Hertha, claiming successfully the location.

NASA rocket and crew lands safely on Mars (4 WT are expended to avoind the 2nd aerobrake roll) and builds a factory (operation), 1 WT is credited to UN for the ET Factory.

UN rocket drifts one space. Provided UN cannot build a second rocket, so it continues to stockpile water.

PRC crew module dumped 2 fuel steps, then used open cycle cooling, raising thrust to 10, reduced mass raised thrust to 11. So the rocket performs a short orbital hop from North Pole to the new NASA Factory near Arsia Mons Caves. Using the PRC's ability to borrow water (steal just seems so... illegal), the rocket is refueled to maximum capacity.

Year 2064 (Turn 12)

Because of positive market conditions, Shimizu Corporation begins an research operation and puts up the FREE ELECTRON LASER ROBONAUT, the H2-O2 FUEL CELL GENERATOR and the MO/LI HEAT PIPE RADIATOR for bid. After some attempts by Shimizu and PRC, the auction is won by ESA with a 3 WT bid.

The cards auctioned during Turn 12

ESA sells the H2-O2 FUEL CELL GENERATOR, 3 WT are earned. No movement for the ESA rocket.

NASA performs an ET Production operation, producing the TERMOPHOTOVOLTAIC GENERATOR in the ET Factory on Mars, a freighter sails to Earth. The NASA rocket and Crew are decommissioned, thus founding a US colony on Mars.

The UN rocket continues its agonizing marking of time across the sky, the movement triggers a "No Event". Then the UN take 1 WT as Income operation.

PRC lifts off into low Martian orbit (10 fuel steps burned to lift off from Mars, then 9 fuel steps are burned to move to Mars LEO). The rocket is then changed to an outpost and a new rocket is assembled in Earth LEO. PRC performs a Free Market operation with the SALT-COOLED REFLUX TUBE RADIATOR, 3 WT are added.

Year 2065 (Turn 13)

No movement for Shimizu, that performs a Free Market operation selling the Photon Tether Rectenna Generator (+3 WT).

No movement also for ESA, that performs a Refuel operation with the buggy, 1 fuel tank is added to the Rocket.

Freighter of NASA leaves the Mars Surface and reaches the LMO. Then the Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch Robonaut is boosted to LEO, zero cost, +1 WT is credited to NASA as launch fee.

UN rocket didn't move much either. Income operation (+1 WT).

PRC puts the PHOTON KITE SAIL THRUSTER up for auction. The blueprints are sold to PRC with a bid of 2 WT.

Year 2066 (Turn 14)

Shimizu Corporations performs a massive Boost operation, a large rocket is assembled in LEO, composed by the De Laval Nozzle Thruster, the Explosive Gas Dynamic Laser Robonaut, the CVD Molding Refinery, the ETHER Charged Dust Radiator and two Generators (Project Orion and Lyman Alpha Trap). 1 WT is credited to NASA as launch fees.

No movement again for ESA, that performs another Refuel operation with the buggy, 1 fuel tank is added to the Rocket.

NASA freighter moves towards the Earth by 1 burn, thus approaching the Sol-Earth Lagrange point. Then the MET Streamer Robonaut is boosted to LEO (1 WT cost minus 1 WT fee to NASA, net zero) and the Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch Robonaut is decommissioned. A new NASA rocket is immediately assembled, acceleration is 6 (base 5 +1 for dry rocket).

UN rocket moves slightly, now approaching the Main Belt Comet. Income operation (+1 WT).

PRC boosts the Photon Kite Sail to LEO, thus creating a new rocket. 1 WT is paid to NASA for launch fees.

Year 2067 (Turn 15)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation is refueled and immediately launched through the radiation belt directly to the Lunar surface. And with great enthusiasm, robonauts completed the construction of a base for future industrialization.

The ESA rocket blasts off Hertha and finds its way to an intersecting orbit with Earth. Hopefully it will make the aerobrake next turn to slow down and reach LEO without burning up. In the meanwhile the blueprints of a Radiator are sold to the free market to add 3 WT to the reserves.

The Freighter of NASA moves approaching Earth, radiation belt is crossed with no problem. Then NASA boosts the ISRU Sabatier Refinery to LEO (cost is 3 WT, 1 WT is credited to NASA as launch fees, net cost 2 WT).

UN rocket continues its route towards the Main Belt Comet. Income operation (+1 WT).

The Chinese Photon Kite Sail sets out into High Earth Orbit, then passes through Geostationary orbit and on through the Sol-Earth Lagrange. A Free Market operation is then performed, selling the Neutral Beam Robonaut (+3 WT).

Year 2068 (Turn 16)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation performs no movement. The Moon surface is industrialized with a S factory (+1 WT to

Rocket of ESA returns home. Then the Magma Electrolysis Refinery is boosted to orbit (+1 WT to NASA as launch fees).

The freighter of NASA reaches LEO, then the Thermo-Photovoltaic Generator trasported by the Freighter is loaded into the rocket and the freighter is so disbanded. NASA performs a Free Market operation: the blueprints of the Mini Mag RF Paul-Trap reactor are sold to the open market, thus gettin 3 WT.

The approaching route of the UN rocket towards the Main Belt Comet is changed and the rocket moves away from Phaeton. This new route allows UN to move the Sun Spot Cycle into the yellow sector, that means the yellow comet (Phaeton) is now accessible. Then an Income Operation is performed (+1 WT).

Rocket of PRC sails into the Highly Eccentric Mars orbit. Then the METASTABLE HELIUM THRUSTER is put up for auction. The blueprints of the new project are sold to PRC with a bid of 2 WT.

Year 2069 (Turn 17)

Shimizu Corporation performs an ET Production operation using the Factory (S) of Luna, the He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser Robonaut is assembled. Shimizu rocket stays on Luna.

Rocket of ESA sails from Lutetia to Earth. Once in LEO, the rocket is immediately refueled. Then ESA performs an ET Industrialization operation in Lutetia, a new product Hula-Hoop Radiator is now available for production.

NASA loads 5 WT into the rocket and sails towards the Ceres family crossing safely the radiation belt of Earth. Then an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Rocket of UN is not moved, then UN perform an Income operation (+1 WT).

The Crew of PRC, left as Outpost in Mars HEO, is hooked with the Rocket sailing from Earth, that then enters the LMO. Then PRC performs a Free Market operations, selling the blueprints of the D-T Fusions Tokamak Reactor for 3 WT.

Year 2070 (Turn 18)

Freighter of Shimizu Corporation sails toward the Rarth. Then an ISRU/Factory Refuel operation is performed for the rocket on Luna.

ESA produces the Hula-Hoop Radiator, then assembles a Freighter in Lutetia and loads the Radiator onto the Freighter.

NASA rocket
lands on Deimos and is then refueled.

Rocket of UN moves into the HEO of Phaeton, then successfully passes the rapid rotation hazard. The rocket finally lands on Phaeton. A Prospect operation is so performed, unsuccessful though.

Rocket of PRC moves towards Earth. The RANKINE MHD GENERATOR is put up to auction. The auction is easily won by PRC with a bid of 0 WT.

Year 2071 (Turn 19)

Freighter of Shimizu Corporation continues its movement and reaches the LEO. Then Shimizu performs a Free Market action and gets 8 WT.

The freighter of ESA lifts off Lutetia and sails towards the Earth. Then an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Rocket of NASA stays on Deimos and is refueled (+2 steps).

Rocket of UN lifts off Phaeton. Then all technolgies are boosted to LEO (+1 WT credited to NASA).

Rocket of PRC carrying the crew arrives in LEO from Mars, two glory
missions are thus achieved (+6 VP).

Year 2072 (Turn 20)

Shimizu Corporation performs an ET Production operation and assembles a He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser Robonaut. The new component is loaded into the rocket in Luna.

The Freighter of ESA continues its voyage towards the Earth. Then ESA performs an Income operation (+1 WT).

Rocket of NASA lifts off Deimos and sails apparently towards the Cehon Family crossing a Triangle Burn point, no Effect event is rolled. Then a Free Market operations is performed, and a Radiator is sold for 3 WT.

Rocket of UN moves to New Region L3 Sol-Venus Lagrange point. Then UN sells the AMTEK Thermoelectric Generator on Free Market (+3 WT).

PRC sells the Dual Mode Fission Reactor on Free Market (+3 WT).

Year 2073 (Turn 21)

Rocket of Shimizu returns back to LEO. Then the CVD Molding Refinery, the Crew and the Laman Alpha Trap Reactor are boosted to LEO and assembled into the rocket (1 WT is credited to NASA as launch fees).

Freighter of ESA moves to LEO. Then ESA sells the Hula-Hoop Radiator for 8 WT.

Rocket of NASA moves forward, this time apparently towards the Jovian Trojans. After crossing a triangle burn, the Event roll causes a Pad Explosion. Effects of the unlucky event are: Shimizu looses the Project Orion Reactor, UN looses the Flywheel Compulsator Generator, PRC looses the Photon Kite Sail Thruster. Lost components are returned to hand.

Rocket of UN continues its route to Earth using the Photon Heliogyro lightsail thruster. Then a replacement Flywheel Compulsator Generator is boosted to LEO, 1 WT is credited to NASA for launch fees. A triangle burn point is crossed during the rocket movement, the Event roll triggers the special event Solar Flare or CME (red sector of sunspot cycle track). The crew of UN suffers an unfortunate Radiation event and is decommissioned (returned to hand). NASA also gets hit with level 2 radiation, but their craft is hardended effectively (and considerably far from the sun).

PRC sells In Core Thermionic Generator on Free Market. 3 WT added to PRC.

Year 2074 (Turn 22)

Shimizu Corporation performs a Free Markets operation selling a Robonaut for 3 WT.

ESA performs an ET operation, thus assembling a Freighter in Lutetia. The Hula-Hoop Radiator is loaded into the Freighter.

NASA rocket continues its route towards the Jovian Trojans, then an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

> UN (John) leaves the game during Turn 22.

PRC performs a Free Market Operation and sells the Salt Cooled Reflux Tube Radiator for 3WT.

Year 2075 (Turn 23)

Shimizu Corporation boosts the Crew and the Project Orion Reactor (+1 WT for NASA), so assembling a very huge rocket in LEO (mass 11).

Freighter of ESA moves out of Lutetia now heading towards Earth. Many components are then boosted to LEO (+1 WT for NASA).

Rocket of NASA lands on Patroclus, then a Prospect operarion is successfully performed, thus making there possible the building of an ET Factory.

PRC boosts several components to LEO, then assembling a new rocket (+1 WT for NASA).

Year 2076 (Turn 24)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation moves back to Luna. Then an ET Production Operation is performed and a He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser Robonaut is assembled into the huge rocket of Shimizu in Luna.

Freighter of ESA sails towards the Earth. Then ESA boosts the Crew to LEO (Nasa +1 WT).

NASA builds an ET Factory in Patroclus (selected V) and decommissions the entire rocket, the Byophytolytic Algae Farm Factory Card (V) is now available for production.

PRC performs an Income operation, no movement.

Year 2077 (Turn 25)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation is refueled by the ET Factory in Luna.

Freighter of ESA is moved and merged with the Rocket, that is afterwards refueled by 3 tanks. The Rocket sails to Heartha and performs an afterburn, thus accelerating to thrust 5. Finally the rockets lands on Hertha (5 fuel steps are consumed) and an ET Factory is built.

An Election takes place, the action is won by Shimizu with a 4 WT bid. Shimizu Corporation moves the Politics disc into the Anarchy box.

NASA performs an ET Production, the Thermophotovoltaic Generator is assembled in Mars and loaded into a Freighter.

PRC puts the KUCK MOSQUITO ROBONAUT up to action. The blueprints are sold to PRC with a bid of 1 WT.

Year 2078 (Turn 26)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation lifts off Luna and sails to the Korinus cluster. The movement triggers an Election event. The auction is won by NASA with a 3 WT bid. The Politicts disc is then moved back to the UN/Peace box.

Then, Shimizu player performs an Orbital Prospection action in the Korinus cluster that results in 5 successful claims, 4 busted, and one location un-prospected.

ESA performs no movement, just an Income operation (+1 WT).

Freighter of NASA moves to Mars LMO. Then an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

PRC puts the BASALT FIBER SPINNING REFINERY up to auction. The blueprints are sold to PRC with a 2 WT bid.

Year 2079 (Turn 27)

Rocket of Shimizu Corporation lands on Dresda asteroid, that is afterwards industrialized.

ESA loads the Hula-Hoop Radiator into a Freighter, that lifts off Hertha and sails towards Lutetia. Then a huge boost operation is performed (+1 WT to NASA for launch fees).

Freighter of NASA continues along its route towards the Earth. Then another Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

PRC sells a Reactor card to Free Market (+3 WT).

Year 2080 (Turn 28)

Shimizu Corporation performs an ET Production operation and assembles a He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser Robonaut in Luna, then loaded into a Freighter.

Freighter of ESA moves forward up to the Hohmann intersection point near the Main Belt Comet (Phaeton). Then an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Freighter of NASA reaches the Earth's Radiation belt and the Thermo-Photovoltaic Generator saves the day with an excellent manouvre. Then NASA boosts the MET Streamer Robonaut and the Crew to LEO (final cost 1 WT only) and assembles a rocket.

PRC sells the Mini-Mag RF Paul Trap Reactor in Free Market Action (+3 WT).

Year 2081 (Turn 29)

Freighter of Shimizu Corporation lifts off to burn towards the Earth. Then it stops on the radiation point going towards the HEO. The rocket is then refueled in Dresda.

Freighter of ESA continue on its route towards LEO. Then an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Freighter of NASA reaches Earth LEO and the Termo-Photovoltaic Generator is assembled into the rocket. Then the rocket is loaded with 8 WT, so up to full tanks. Acceleration is calculated as follows: 5 (base) -2 (fuel weight) +1 (generator bonus) -0 (solar), final value 4. So the rocket sails along the Hertha route, 4 burns are passed, 3 burns are paid (1 is free thanks to Luna) for a total of 12 fuel steps. Finally the rocket reaches the Hohmann intersection near the Nysa Family. The movement entails an Event roll, nothing happens.

Then an ET Production is perfomed, the Biophytolitic Algae Farm Refinery is assembled in Patroclus and immediately loaded into a Freighter.

PRC boosts the Basalt Spinning Refinery and the Kuck Mosquito Robonaut to LEO at a cost of 3 WT, 1 WT is paid to NASA for launch fees.

Year 2082 (Turn 30)

Freighter of Shimizu Corporations reaches LEO, the He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser Robonaut is then sold to Free Market for 5 WT. Finally Shimizu claims the Pharmacy Space Venture for 5 VP.

ESA moves its Freighter to LEO, thus joining the Rocket stack that is fueled up with 2 WT and then sails to Lutetia. An ET Production operation is performed, the Electrophoretic Sandworm Robonaut is assembled into the rocket on Lutetia.

Freighter of NASA lifts off Patroclus and the Rocket approaches the Nysa Family. Then the Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch Robonaut is sold to the Free Market (+3 WT).

Rocket of PRC moves to HEO and then crosses the Radiation Belt, then reaches GEO. The Metastable Helium Thruster fried by VanAllen radiation. Finally the MiniMag RF Paul Reactor is sold on Free Market for 3 WT.

Year 2083 (Turn 31)

Shimizu Corporation performs an ET Production for the He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser.

Rocket of ESA refuels at Lutetia.

Freighter of NASA moves on towards the Rocket, then the Rocket lands on Chaucer. So NASA attempts a prospection of the asteroid, and it's a success.

PRC decommissions the Ti/K Heat Pipe Radiator, thus moving the Rocket's mass to 7. The Crew is used as Thruster. Finally an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Year 2084 (Turn 32)

Shimizu Corporation performs an ET Production operation, thus assembling the Free Radical Hydrogen Trap Reactor
into the Rocket in Dresda.

Rocket of ESA lifts off Lutetia thanks to the Beam Power ability that gives the Rocket the required acceleration to avoid the fuel penalty. Three burns are used to maneuver to the Jupiter Fly-By and then use the four free burns to double back into the Jovian System. One final burn is used to position the Rocket inside Jupiter's Radiation Belt. An Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Freighter of NASA reaches the Hohmann point near the Nysa Family (a tringle burn is crossed, but no Event is rolled as per 8.5B). The Robonaut and the Generator are left on Chaucer as Outpost, so the Rocket (composed only by the Crew card) lifts off Chaucer with Acceleration 9 and meets the Freighter, thus loading the cargo (Thermo-Photovoltaic Refinery). Finally an Income operation is performed (+1 WT).

Rocket of PRC benefist the ESA's Beam Power bonus and sails towards Mars. When crossing the Hellas Basin Aerobrake Hazard, an unlucky dieroll makes the rocket burns up in the Martian atmosphere! Despite the failure, PRC has to pay 1 WT to ESA for the laser boost.

Year 2085 (Turn 33)

Shimizu Corporation performs an ET Production operation, thus assembling the He-Ar Nuclear Pumped Laser Robonaut into the Rocket in Dresda.

Rocket of ESA successfully makes an insertion Orbit over Io and survives the dangerous sulfer volcanoes, expending 2 burns and parking into IO low orbit. Then the CAT FUSION Z-PINCH TORCH ROBONAUT is put up to auction. The blueprints are sold to ESA for 0 WT.

Rocket of NASA lands again on Chaucer and an ET Factory is immediately built (Robonaut, Factory, Generator are decommisioned). Then NASA founds a colony there by decommissioning the Crew Card. Provided 7 ET Factories are in play, the game is ended!

Victory Points

Claims: Luna - FACTORY (S), Dresda (asteroid) - FACTORY (S), Lacrimosa, Koronis, Ida and Karin B (asteroids).
6 Claims, 2 Factories = 8 VP
2 S Factories = 10 VP
V Space Venture = 5 VP
Total: 23 VP

ESA (Francisco) :
Claims : Lutetia - FACTORY (M), Hertha (asteroid) - FACTORY (M),
Chaucer (asteroid).
2 Claims, 2 Factories = 4 VP
2 M Factories = 10 VP
Total: 14 VP

NASA (Luca) :
Claims : Patroclus - FACTORY (V), Arsia Mons Caves (Mars surface) - FACTORY (C) + Colony, Chaucer (asteroid) - FACTORY (C) + Colony.
3 Claims, 3 Factories and 2 Colonies = 8 VP
2 C Factories = 10 VP
1 V Factory = 8 VP
Total: 26 VP [WINNER]

PRC (Brian) :
Claims : Hellas Basin Burned Glaciers, North Pole (Mars surface).
2 Claims = 2 VP
2 Glory Missions = 6 VP
Total: 8 VP

Players' point of view:

SHIMIZU - Samuel Williams
, for several years I'd been meaning to learn to play Phil Eklund's High Frontier and the first expansion. Several years ago I'd played American Mega Fauna and Origins: How we became human. I'm a fan of Phil's games possibly because of the investment to absorb the rules by myself, then develop a group of people to play the game with me. After moving to Columbus Ohio, I became a member of the Columbus Area Board Game Society (CABS) which one of the largest board game clubs in United States. (It might be the largest.) Over 100 members get together 4 times a month to play various table top and card games. While some war gamer's will play games for several weeks, the typical games last between 45 minutes and 3 hours. Most of Phil's games start at 2.5 hours. So, they don't get to the table much at CAB's. And when they do, I was the person that usually had to digest the rules then present them concisely to others to play. I'd come to this game having played everything from Fluxx, Munchkin, Innovation, Diplomacy, Risk, Axis & Allies, Battle Star Galactica, but really the other Eklund games were the best experience to tackle High Frontier. I began by studying the rules, setting up a test game, reading rules, playing 3 turns, resetting the test game, reading rules, playing 6 turns of a test game... yes. Lots of loops. This had worked for bios megafauna and Origins, but it wasn't until I learned about Vassal that the game became real. I'd attempted vassal to be able to setup and play a game solitaire, but now I began a breakout game with other players. I reached out on the Yahoo High Frontier group and met Francisco. We spent a few evenings helping me learn the game and break down how all the mechanisms interact.

When we began these email games, we struggled during the first few turns to organize the process of playing a game and all using the same software to play the game. But quickly we fell into a groove and our game progressed well for several months.

As Shimizu Corp. I made a failed attempt to prospect Deimos and a few other auctions to build a better rocket. Eventually, a deal with ESA resulted in a stronger reactor and upgraded radiator. With an upgraded set of technology, Shimizu Corp successfully prospected then industrialized Luna using the awesome Project Orion reactor. Luna became a staging ground for future expansion of the Korinus cluster where I staked 5 claims in one turn using orbital prospecting. Eventually I had plans to diversify my claims, but the game eventually came to a close before I those plans could come to fruition.

All in all, this was my first large scale game of High Frontier. It has become a staging experience that has propelled me to take part in play testing upcoming Eklund games, and learning how to develop a new High Frontier module for Vassal. I look forward to my next game, and the future of High Frontier!

ESA - Francisco Colmenares
's first experience with more sophisticated boardgames came from raiding his father's closet: Civilization, Statis-Pro Basebal, Source of the Nile and Freedom in the Galaxy. Later on he borrowed a few wargames from a friend and started playing World in Flames and Guns of August. To stop the piracy dear old dad gave him his first wargame as a birthday present, TSR's World War II: European Theater of Operations (the boy was pinning for the game every time he went to the local bookstore). Later on life he grew up and started acquiring more interesting titles for himself: Paths of Glory, Europe Engulfed, Barbarossa to Berlin and many others. High Frontier came a bit recently after deciding to acquire and collect some of the more "hard science" games available. Currently he is a software developer in Toronto (after moving from Venezuela to Mexico and then Canada) living with his wife and daughter with a second baby on the way...

Playing this game through email rather than face to face is an interesting experience as it allows all kinds of analysis and planning while waiting for the next player to execute his turn. You might make an entire move and then cancel it completely at the last minute because you thought of something more interesting to do. High Frontier can be daunting in the beginning because you have little idea of what to do, where to go and how to do it. As you gain more experience and see which targets are generally easier to get to the game becomes more of an experience of how to get a successful space mission there. I found myself thinking about how to be as efficient as possible given the resources I had. The early auctions were not all that good for me. I made a trade with Shimizu to get a lighter reactor that gave me more thrust in exchange for the massive reactor which fitted his own rocket nicely. This allowed me to catch up a bit on the space exploration side of things.

The cards I managed to obtain dictated to some extent how I was going to play. I slowly got the idea to go for M targets and the space venture. While I had a plan to go to Lutetia and Hertha (using my buggies I had favorable odds of success) I lacked long term planning in exploiting any advantage the space venture would get. In addition I delayed too long in industrializing my first factory, then afterwards I delayed too long the third claim when I went for my second factory. In short, my game did not have a coherent overarching strategy. At times I seemed to be trying to get the Space Elevator, other times maximizing factories. I wanted both M factories to have a good radiator card and a good robonaut card. In my view you shouldn't depend on more than one black card to help your strategy to win the game. By the time you get two it's almost game over.

Looking back I should have focused on getting a black buggy (to allow for access to the dryer M sites) and simply soldiered on with the radiator I had (perhaps trading for another one), limiting myself to the Lutetia factory which would have been a great jumping off point to get the other claims for my space venture strategy (Lutetita is a great spring-board for the outer solar system as well.

Auctions necessarily slowed the game down but still moved along an acceptable pace once clear rules were established on deadlines for bidding through email or the website. Getting the mix of cards that will help your space missions is crucial and one shouldn't shy away from trading with other players to get the cards you need. Especially if someone else is already ahead, making deals with competitors can be win-win if both sides will get into space faster.

NASA - Luca Cammisa
is a PC game developer (read my profile in the appropriate page) and game designer. My favorite games are those listed in the home page of my site, essentially some old evergreens such as VG's Civil War and Pax Britannica, and many GMT's and AH's card driven games, such as Twilight Struggle, Paths of Glory, Labyrinth War on Terror, No Retreat... Like happened to Francisco, High Frontier came recently after I discovered some cool games designed by Phil Eklund, a brilliant game designer that I admire for the uniqueness of solutions and approach.

Playing as NASA I exploited the advantage provided by boost bonus on launch fees. This allowed me to have a stable financial balance and spend WT in the key moment, such as when crossing the risky aerobrake points and boosting large rocket components to LEO.

NASA capitalized the importance of Robo-Thruster cards (the MET Streamer) and used that technology for the entire duration of the game. This, combined with the Stirling Engine Generator and the ISRU Sabatier Refinery, was the initial setup of NASA.

The first mission was on Mars -standard strategy- that was prospected in 2057. Then, a second mission was delivered onto Mars in 2063-2064, when a colony and an ET Factory was fonded in Arsia Mons Caves site. In 2064, the Stirling Engine Generator was converted into a Termophotovoltaic Generator, thus making NASA rockets no more forced to perform afterburns to cool down the heat produced by the the old Generator.

In 2065-2066, NASA attempted to introduce a new technology for next missions, the Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch Robonaut, abandoned shortly after to return to the MET Streamer technology. The new mission started in 2069, a huge rocket sailed towards Patroclus, then reached in 2075 after a stop on Deimos in 2070-2071 for refuelling. The second ET Factory was fonded in 2076, this made a new Refinery technology available: the Biophytolytic Algae Farm. The new Refinery was produced and loaded into a freighter that sailed towards the Nysa Family for the 3rd mission of NASA.

In 2077-2081 NASA produced the Termophotovoltaic Generator in Mars and sailed it to LEO by freighter, then assembled a new rocket for the 3rd mission to Chaucer in the Nysa Family. The rocket landed on Chaucer in 2083, then successfully prospected. The 3rd ET Factory (and Colony) of NASA was built in 2085, after a Crew rocket lifted off Chaucer and coalesced with the Factory freighter, then landed back on the asteroid. This closed the game as 7th ET Factory with a NASA victory (26 VP).

PRC - Brian Hurrel
's first experience with wargames was a copy of Squad Leader purchased in 1978. It was a little much for a 12 year old, so he got a more kid-friendly copy of Panzerblitz soon after. He has been an avid gamer ever since, and was especially fond of the Traveller RPG, GDWs Imperium, the Microgames of the 80s such as Sticks and Stones and GEV, and lately has been enjoying Euro games such as Catan and Agricola. He happened upon High Frontier by accident and soon bought up every one of Phil Ecklund's "Science Adventure" games. An avid science fiction fan, he also writes on occasion, and his fiction has appeared in the British science journal "Nature", the magazine Daily Science Fiction, and the young adult audio podcasts of "Cast of Wonders". He previously served in the US Marine Corps, taught high school English and History for six years, and now works in the software industry in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son.

For the most part, this game did not seem like a competition between myself and the other players - yes, we were competing for technology and resource sites, but I had enough to do competing with the game itself. Space travel is hard. Missions are difficult to plan. Creating an optimal assembly of thrusters, power plants, radiators, along with the most suitable robonauts, is incredibly challenging. All of which makes the game even more enjoyable and satisfying. When you actually manage to land and claim a site, you really feel like you accomplished something.

As the PRC (People’s Republic of China), I had some early success, being the first to land a manned mission on Mars. Unfortunately I then got bogged down trying to gain Glory Points for being being the first to land men on Mars and return them safely to Earth. Landing on Mars costs no fuel, since its atmosphere allows you to aerobrake and parachute to the surface. Taking off, however, requires fuel. A lot of it.

For the record, the Moon’s lack of an atmosphere, which requires you to burn fuel to land as well as take off, makes it an unappealing target for exploitation early in the game.

My quest for Glory Points was a mistake. It wasted a lot of time, and though PRC took an early lead in points, the other players had been busy prospecting and exploiting as far out as the Asteroid Belt.

Another mistake might have been failing to use the PRC's abilities to be more ruthless. Each player has unique abilities, and the PRC can perform actions that are otherwise “illegal”. They can jump claims, steal water, and decommission (sacrifice) a crew. However, such actions would probably have been, in the long run, counterproductive. Other players, notably the ESA with its satellite laser boost or the UN with its radiation shielded cycler, would have likely refused to provide boosts or safe passage through the Van Allen belt, which can often be crucial to missions. For this reason, and because my opponents are all nice guys, I refrained from such anti-social behavior. The tone of the game overall was one of competition mixed with cooperation.

After being left far behind, I finally assembled the perfect factory ship near the end of the game. And then, absolute disaster. My main drive was fried in the Van Allen belt when leaving Earth. But I had luckily included solar sail as a backup thruster, which came in handy and allowed the mission to continue. Onward to Mars! I was exultant, then horrified when my grand factory ship burned up spectacularly in Mars’ atmosphere. I immediately regretted not spending 4 WT for "failure is not an option". Such expenditures might be painful, and most of the time unnecessary, but losing an entire factory rig is far more painful.

Despite my less than stellar performance, I found the game immensely enjoyable and eagerly await the next session. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Bid on cards with two supports, even if you don’t need them. You can sell them on the Free Market for up to 9WT, a huge fortune and return on investment.

2. If you can afford it, even if you can “barely” afford it, make a deal with the UN to use their cycler for passage through the Van Allen belt. The same goes for the 4WT for “Failure is not an Option”. 4WT is a lot of money, especially if it turns out to not have been needed, but it can save you a decade of rebuilding, not to mention falling far behind the competition.

3. Use manned ships whenever possible. The extra weight can be a drag. Literally. But no one wants to lose a 40 billion dollar mission in deep space because there was no one around to change out a $6 fuse (a “glitch” in game terms).

4. Don't bother with Glory points early in the game. They waste a lot of time and aren't worth the expenditure. Newspaper headlines and ticker-tape parades are no substitute for a working factory on Ceres.